Several homemade firebombs were hurled by youths through a window of an Inglewood home Wednesday night, severely burning a 12-year-old boy and injuring a mother and her four young children who were watching television at the time, authorities said.
Fire officials seeking a motive for the attack said the eight people in the house were fortunate to survive the fiery explosion.
At least one of the Molotov cocktails landed in the living room, blowing a hole in the floor and sparking the fire that engulfed the single-family home on West 103rd Street.
"I was sitting there with a friend and the kids and all of a sudden the room was full of flames," said Brenda Walker, 28, who carried her month-old son to safety. Walker's feet were singed as she ran across the burning floor. Her baby suffered from minor smoke inhalation.
Terrell Mullen, the 12-year-old who suffered second- and third-degree burns on his face, back and hands, ran out of the burning house screaming, "I'm on fire!" said Elijah Walker Jr., 31, a brother of the boy and of Brenda Walker.
The older brother covered the boy with a blanket to extinguish the fire before entering the burning house to lead the others to safety. A family friend, J.C. Holland, who was visiting Brenda Walker at the time of the bombing, assisted Walker.
"All I heard was a big bang and then all you could see was flames," Holland said. "Everything happened so fast."
"If it wasn't for Elijah, we all would have died," Brenda Walker said.
Mullen, a sixth-grader at Lennox Middle School, was in stable condition Thursday at the burn center at Sherman Oaks Community Hospital, while three other children, who range in age from 3 to 7, were treated and released at area hospitals for minor burns.
Fire officials said they discovered a flammable liquid and pieces of glass at the scene, indicating that a homemade firebomb was the cause of the blaze. They estimated that the small single-family home, one of three residences on the lot that house Walker family members, suffered $35,000 damage.
Inglewood Fire Battalion Chief Kenneth Mays, who called the family "lucky to be alive," said arson investigators are approaching the incident as an attempted murder.
Witnesses told investigators they saw four men in their early 20s wearing white T-shirts running from the home shortly after the 10:30 p.m. blaze, Mays said. The men threw as many as four fire bombs at the house and then fled without saying a word, witnesses said.
"We have more evidence than we usually do for an arson investigation, so I'm optimistic that we'll catch the suspects," Mays said.
Mays said the motive for the attack was unknown and there did not appear to be any gang connection.
Brenda Walker and other family members said they had no idea who could have orchestrated such an attack.
"Everybody likes me around here," Walker said Thursday as she surveyed the gutted house. "I just think they got the wrong house . . . but I'm moving anyway. It seems like somebody is trying to kill me."