The house fire that claimed the life of a Burbank woman and left two others injured two weeks ago was caused by the improper use of candles, authorities said Thursday.
Details on how many candles or what types of candles were being used were not available, but fire officials confirmed the home did not have electricity.
The 69-year-old woman, identified by Los Angeles County coroner’s officials as Irmhild Marcaccio, died at the hospital of smoke inhalation. Her son and daughter-in-law, who lived with her, suffered minor burns.
According to Marcaccio’s next-door neighbor, Rena McCann, the family used candles for additional light. For six weeks, McCann had supplied an electrical cord to her neighbor, which was enough to power a television, a light and Marcaccio’s medical equipment.
The Friday before the fire, Marcaccio’s son told McCann they no longer needed the power because their electricity would be turned back on the next day, McCann said. It never was.
For Burbank Water and Power to shut off the power at someone’s home, it would take months of no contact with the tenant, which utility spokesman Joe Flores said is unusual.
“They get a lot of different contacts (from) us before any kind of action would be taken,” Flores said, though he declined to comment specifically on this case because the utility does not share customers’ private information.
Fire officials warned that candles should never be left unattended, and should always be contained in proper holders so that if they tip over, they’ll self-extinguish.
“You don’t want to go to sleep with candles,” said Deputy Fire Marshal Jorge Martinez, adding that they should be kept away from materials that can catch fire, such as upholstery, furniture or curtains.
“You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings,” he said.