One teenage girl was killed and another taken to the hospital in grave condition Thursday after the girls could not escape their burning home because both of their bedroom’s exits were blocked.
Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters were dispatched at 10:34 a.m. and arrived three minutes later to the fire in the 1100 block of East Franklin Avenue in Pomona, according to the agency.
Twenty-three firefighters battled heavy fire on the bottom floor of a two-story apartment complex.
The girls were trapped in their bedroom after the fire blocked their path to the front door of their home, and they couldn’t escape through their bedroom window because it was blocked by furniture and an exterior mounted air-conditioning unit, according to the Fire Department.
A third victim, an older female relative, suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, a Fire Department spokesman said. The fire was knocked down by about 11 a.m.
Earlier in the day, firefighters were dispatched to a two-story home consumed by a large blaze in the 600 block of North Rocking Horse Road in Walnut.
About 10 minutes into the fire fight, incident commanders requested a second alarm assignment, which doubled the number of firefighters at the scene.
As their colleagues battled the blaze, a group of firefighters assigned to search for people inside the home found two victims.
Both of them were “beyond the help of the Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics and pronounced dead on-scene,” according to the agency.
Sky Cornell, a Fire Department spokesman, said that according to preliminary information collected at the scene, the two victims were college students. Their genders were not yet known.
Their roommate, a foreign exchange student, told firefighters that he didn’t know anyone else was home, Cornell said. The student, thought to be about 18, didn’t have anywhere to stay Thursday evening. Firefighters contacted the Red Cross to ensure he had shelter, Cornell said.
A family of four lived upstairs and were able to safely escape the home, he said.
Three firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling the blaze and were taken to a hospital. One firefighter suffered minor burns to his neck and shoulders, while another was burned on his ears. The third firefighter suffered an undetermined back injury, Cornell said.
Because the majority of the county’s 10 million residents are staying at home amid the coronavirus outbreak, the risk of house fires has increased, fire officials have said.
Capt. Ron Haralson, a county fire spokesman, said families should take time to practice their family fire drill and ensure that there are two exit routes and that everyone in the family knows how to escape through them.
Additionally, it’s essential that families have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and that children in the home know what they sound like.
“Tell the kids or anybody else in the house, ‘When you hear this, this means there’s a fire, there’s smoke, and we need to get up and we need to be thinking about our exits,’” Haralson said.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, firefighters remained on the scene of the Walnut house fire. The cause remains under investigation.