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California

Apartment fire in Hemet that claimed three lives originated from Christmas tree, authorities say

An apartment fire in Hemet this week that killed a father and two of his children originated from a Christmas tree, authorities said.

The fire broke out shortly after 1 a.m. Friday in a second-story apartment unit in the 100 block of North Alessandro Street, police and fire officials said.

The three killed were identified as Juan Moreno, 41, and his children Maris, 12, and Janessa, 4, authorities said. An unidentified 8-year-old male remains in grave condition at UCI Medical Center.

Moreno went back inside in the house to rescue family members, Hemet police Lt. Nate Miller said Friday.

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“He wasn’t seen alive after that.”

Investigators with the Hemet Fire Department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection made the determination.

“This tragedy underscores how quickly a fire can spread,” Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown said. “Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. Smoke alarms provide that critical early warning so you can get out quickly.”


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