SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Investigators Tuesday were trying to determine what sparked a house fire that left four children badly burned in South Los Angeles.
The fire was reported just before 11 p.m. Monday at a 432-square-foot bungalow located at 861 West Manchester Avenue in the Vermont Knolls neighborhood.
Upon arrival, firefighters located heavy flames billowing from the front of the one-story building, which was largely secured by bars.
One firefighter forced open a window and climbed inside the burning bungalow to rescue three brothers and one sister trapped inside a bedroom.
“One of them discovered, looking through the window, that there were children in the back bedroom. He broke the window out, reached in, went in there, grabbed the children, start handing them out to his co-workers,” Capt. David Ortiz of Los Angeles Fire Department explained. “He went physically inside the room and started pulling the children out.”
Paramedics rushed the 2-year-old, 3-year-old and 5-year-old boys, and a 7-year-old girl to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center to be treated for severe burns and smoke inhalation. They were listed in critical, but stable condition.
It took less than one minute to rescue all four children.
When asked if rushing into a burning building to save the kids a heroic act on the part of the firefighter, Ortiz told CBS2’s Dave Lopez that “I think he would tell you that he was just doing his job. But not being protected by a handline, not having a hoseline to protect him, I think that’s heroic. The room could have flashed at any moment.”
According to fire officials, the children’s mother was outside getting something out of her car when flames broke out.
Ninety firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze within 16 minutes.
The 93-year-old home was equipped with at least one smoke alarm, but it remains unclear if it was functioning when the fire erupted.
The building was not equipped with residential fire sprinklers.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The bungalow had no electricity, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
But she declined to comment on reports that investigators may be looking into whether alternate sources of heat or light were being used.