Toddler dead; grandparents critical after house fire

Fire at house in San Bruno (Ken Hayes Jr.)
July 13, 2012 9:19:37 PM PDT
A two-alarm fire in San Bruno Friday morning killed a toddler and critically injured his grandparents. There may have been more deaths or injuries had it not been for the heroics of nearby construction workers who sprang into action.

The fire broke out on the second floor hallway of a home on Lake Drive at 8:45 a.m. The toddler and two adults who were taken to the hospital were in the back bedroom. The workers were next door at a house that is under construction. They rescued one person, but weren't able to reach the toddler. "We saw the house was on fire and there was a person in the window, trying to, he was calling the emergency number," Alvaro Gomez said.

Gomez was with other workers next door at a house that was under construction when the fire started. Firefighters had yet to arrive, so the workers took matters into their own hands. They attempted to rescue the person in the second floor bedroom. "We ran and got a ladder and got him down and he said there was a child in the backroom, so we ran to the back and broke a few windows trying to get in, but it was so dark with heavy smoke, so we couldn't get in," he said.

Gomez told us the second floor hallway was engulfed in flames and that the child was in a back bedroom, which opened up into the hallway. "He told us there was a two-year-old. We just went crazy trying to see if we could get him out, but there was no chance," he said.

The workers then ran their water hose and sprayed the house as much as they could. By then, firefighters had arrived and entered the home. The toddler and adult residents were taken to the hospital. The sad news came hours later. "Unfortunately, we have one fatality to report of a two-year-old boy," Millbrae Fire Department Deputy Chief Dave Downing said.

The toddler's grandparents were taken to the hospital and are now in critical condition. "I'm just praying right now that my grandpa and grandma come back. I hope they make it," Fire victim's cousin Raja Singh said.

Singh says his grandparents were babysitting Akash. "His parents work in the mornings and then he usually gets picked up in the afternoon," he said.

The chief says the blaze was probably set accidentally in the hallway when something, perhaps a candle, may have ignited the fire. The family who lives in the house are hindus. "Usually what hindu people do is they have a shrine in their house and they pray to it, so that's what we mainly do every day," Singh said.

Singh says the altar was in the second floor hallway, so a candle in that altar may have accidentally set the blaze. However, this is still an active investigation and there is no official cause at this time.


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