Pasadena apartment fire that killed 4-year-old is blamed on electrical malfunction

Map shows location of apartment fire in Pasadena on Wednesday.
A 4-year-old boy died in a Pasadena apartment fire on Wednesday. His brother and mother were both critically injured.
(Los Angeles Times)

An apartment fire in Pasadena that killed a 4-year-old boy and critically injured his mother and 3-year-old brother was probably caused by an electrical problem related to a refrigerator, officials said Thursday.

The fire started about 2 p.m. Wednesday at an eight-unit apartment complex in the 100 block of East Washington Boulevard. Firefighters arrived within four minutes and knocked down the blaze about 21 minutes later, Pasadena city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.

About 55 firefighters helped extinguish the flames, interim Pasadena Fire Chief Bryan Frieders told KTLA-TV Channel 5.

The boy who died was found in the apartment’s kitchen, where the fire is believed to have started, authorities said. The body of a dog also was found inside the unit, which was destroyed.

The boy’s 29-year-old mother and younger brother were found outside when firefighters arrived on the scene and were transported in critical condition to a hospital before being airlifted to a burn unit, officials said.

“We’re hoping they show signs of improvement,” Derderian said Thursday. “They sustained smoke inhalation and fire injuries.”

The boys’ father was not home at the time of the fire, and no other residents inside the complex were injured, Derderian said. The blaze affected one other unit above the apartment that burned, but its occupants were able to escape.

Other residents were displaced for the night because utilities were shut off, Derderian said. All but those in the two affected units will be able to return once utilities are turned back on, she said.

Several firefighters who helped battle the blaze have young children around the same age as the two boys, Derderian said. A newly launched chaplain program run by a former firefighter has provided counseling for the affected fire personnel, she said.