Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : 4-Month-Old Killed in Mobile Home Fire : Blaze: The infant’s parents recently removed batteries from a smoke alarm that could have prevented the Palmdale tragedy, officials say.


Fire officials say the death of a 4-month-old boy in a mobile home fire Tuesday could have been prevented if his parents hadn’t removed batteries from a smoke alarm.

Jose Duenas, 38, and his 4-month-old son, Manuel, were in the family’s home when flames broke out shortly before 10:30 a.m., said Inspector Wade Little, community relations officer for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Duenas awoke from where he was sleeping on a living room couch and tried to leave through the mobile home’s front door, but was driven back by flames and left by the back door. He thought Manuel was with his mother, Guadalupe Salas, at a neighbor’s house, but the baby was actually in another room of the mobile home, Little said.


The father attempted to put out the flames with a water hose.

Moments later, Salas returned and was injured as she attempted to enter the mobile home’s front door to retrieve the baby, Little said. Salas, 37, was later taken to the Antelope Valley Hospital Medical Center, where she was treated for smoke inhalation and cuts to her arms and hands.

The mobile home in the 35800 block of 165th St. East was already engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, Little said. Multiple explosions shook the structure as several five-gallon propane tanks burst.

Although the mobile home was equipped with a smoke alarm, the parents earlier had removed the batteries because it had been beeping constantly, Little said. The sound may have been the device’s warning signal that a fresh battery was needed, Little said.

“If (the father) would have been woken earlier by the smoke alarm, he probably could have gotten the baby out,” Little said.

“He was fortunate to wake up,” said Little. “Most people don’t.”

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blaze. Salas told fire officials she had placed wood in the trailer’s wood-burning heater shortly before leaving to go to their neighbor’s home.

The fire caused an estimated $15,000 in damage to the mobile home, which was located in a rural, scrub-covered desert area with few nearby structures.


This was the second time in two days that a person was killed in a mobile home fire in the Antelope Valley.

Lenny Harper, 32, of Lancaster died of smoke inhalation early Monday morning when a portable electric heater started a fire in a home at the Desert Breeze Mobile Home Park.