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California

Boy, 8, dies of injuries from Christmas tree fire in Hemet that killed dad, 2 siblings

An 8-year-old boy died over the weekend from injuries suffered in a Christmas tree fire in Hemet that killed his father and two siblings, authorities said.

The boy, whom authorities are not identifying, died Saturday afternoon, according to Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown. He had been in grave condition at UCI Medical Center.

“We have not released the name of the child,” Brown said. “I know it’s out there but we’re trying to be respectful to the family as they try and deal with the enormity of the situation.”

The fire, which broke out shortly after 1 a.m. Friday in a second-story apartment unit in the 100 block of North Alessandro Street, originated from a Christmas tree.

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Three of the victims were identified as Juan Moreno, 41, and his children Maris, 12, and Janessa, 4.

Moreno went back into the house to rescue family members, Hemet Police Lt. Nate Miller said Friday.

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

“This tragedy underscores how quickly a fire can spread,” 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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In apartments on either side and down the hallway, smoke alarms were activated and going off through the morning that firefighters worked. It is unclear whether there were smoke alarms in the apartment where the fire started.

“We had no evidence of anything that we could locate that would show us there was a detector there. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t,” Brown said. “Everything was consumed by fire, so that’s a question mark.”


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