Trapped by Security Bars, Woman Dies in Burning Home

Times Staff Writer

A Sepulveda woman died Saturday night when the steel bars she had installed on her windows and doors trapped her inside her burning house.

Melba Nadine Moore, 67, became the fourth Los Angeles resident this month to die inside a burning home equipped with security bars. Officials blamed a smoldering cigarette for starting the fire that killed Moore.

The fire occurred about 11:30 p.m. in the 7900 block of Wisner Avenue. When firefighters pried off the back door of the house, they found Moore's charred remains. The woman was pressed against the door; a key ring with the key to the barred door was nearby, fire officials said.

Moore's windows were equipped with quick-release latches that allow occupants to escape in case of fire. Fire officials said they do not know why the woman did not open one of the windows and push open the bars in order to escape.

Earlier Tragedy

It took four fire companies 20 minutes to put out the blaze, which caused an estimated $11,000 damage in the bedroom and hallway.

On June 6, three South-Central Los Angeles youngsters died in their grandparents' 113th Street home as neighbors unsuccessfully tried to pull the metal bars off windows that trapped them in a fire-filled bedroom.

A similar tragedy was averted early Saturday morning when Dedan Gills rescued seven children in a burning house on East 111th Street. Gills used his hands and a two-by-four to bend security bars and pull the youngsters to safety.

Under a retroactive city ordinance passed in 1985, quick-release levers are required on all window and door security bars.

Fire at Canyon Country Condo

In an unrelated incident, authorities are also blaming careless smoking for starting a fire in a Canyon Country condominium that caused an estimated $15,000 damage.

Los Angeles County firefighters arrived at a complex in the 18700 block of Mandan Street at 4:50 a.m. Sunday to find the wood-and-stucco building ablaze. It took about 25 minutes to put out the fire, a spokesman for the county Fire Department said.

Paramedics took a resident of the condominium to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia for treatment of smoke inhalation. Fire officials would not release the man's name.

Damage to the condominium was so extensive that officials have condemned the dwelling, the county department spokesman said.

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