Child dies in Richmond apartment fire

April 25, 2008 9:52:50 AM PDT
A young child is dead and Richmond firefighters are looking for the cause of the apartment fire that killed the boy.

A 5-year-old boy died in an apartment fire in Richmond on Wednesday night, despite everything neighbors and firefighters tried so desperately to do.

Investigators don't know at this point if the security bars on the windows played a role or hurt his chances to get out alive.

Tokens of love and loss were left outside 5-year-old Kristopher Love's apartment. He died in a fire early on Thursday morning. Firefighters found him just feet from the front door.

His mother escaped with first and second degree burns to her arms, forehead and nose.

"She was outside, desperate didn't know what to do. She was crying a lot she kept saying somebody please help my baby's inside," said witness Jose Gonzalez.

Seventeen-year-old Enrique Pescador pulled open the security bars on the bedroom window and broke the glass.

"The bars from the window I just pulled them and broke the window with my fist and I was about to go in but the smoke came and it was choking me and I couldn't do anything else," said neighbor Guillermo Pescador.

Fire officials say there were working smoke detectors, and that the bedroom security bars released like they're supposed to.

But there's no way to know if the boy had tried and failed to open them, or if he had tried to get out any of the other windows, where a release is not required.

Fire officials say the law requires bedroom security windows to have an emergency release, but that's the only place a release is required and they should be easy enough for a child to use.

But there are different styles on the market, and no way to make sure parents are teaching their kids how to use them.

Fire officials also say maintenance can be a problem.

ABC7 News found evidence of that at a nearby condo. Owner Enrique Hernandez had no problem opening it on first try. But then the rusty bars jammed when we tried it.

Hernandez says the bars were there when he bought the place, but he's been planning to take them off.

"Because I think I don't feel safe," said Hernandez.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

A memorial fund has been set up for the family in Kristopher's name.

Kristopher Love Memorial Fund
c/o Sandis Civil Engineers
1721 Broadway Suite 201
Oakland, CA 94612.


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