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Three Trapped Children Die in House Fire

Three children, at least one of whom had been playing with matches, died early this morning when fire swept their grandparents’ Watts-area home, even though neighbors tried to pry the bars off the windows of the burning house to save them, fire officials said.

The children, two 3-year-old boys and a 13-month-old girl, were found dead in a bedroom of the home on East 113th Street about 20 minutes after the blaze was reported to firefighters. Their grandparents, who were awakened by the children’s screams but were driven back by flames, escaped when neighbors tore the front door from the wall of the one-story home to free them, fire officials said.

“But they were unable to get into the children’s room because of the heavy smoke and fire,” said city fire spokesman Jim Wells. The 1:46 a.m. fire was controlled in 17 minutes.

The three bedrooms were equipped with security bars on the windows, but the bars in the children’s bedroom did not have the quick-release latch required under a recent but retroactive city ordinance, according to Wells.

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The family had recently purchased a smoke detector but had not yet installed it, he added.

The names of the victims were not released.


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