HEMET (CBSLA) — A fire that killed three early Friday morning was started by the family’s Christmas tree, Hemet police said in a Saturday statement.
The fire broke out at about 1:07 a.m. in the 100 block of N. Alessandro Street and quickly engulfed a number of units of the Olive Apartments complex in Hemet.
Juan Moreno, 41, died in the fire while trying to save two of his children — 4-year-old Janessa Moreno and 12-year-old Maria Moreno. Another child, 8-year-old Isaac Moreno, who was rescued from the home and taken to the hospital died Saturday afternoon.
Christina Moreno, the children’s mother, infant Cecily Moreno and 11-year-old Jaelyn Moreno, who were in the apartment when the blaze began, were able to get out safely.
“This tragedy underscores how quickly a fire can spread,” Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown said in a statement. “Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. Smoke alarms provide that critical early warning so you can get out quickly and are an important part of a home fire escape plan.”
A GoFundMe page set up by family members had raised more than $24,000 of its $20,000 goal by Saturday afternoon.