Christmas Tree Sparks Electrical Fire, Kills Father and Children in Hemet Fire

The third child died from his injuries on Saturday, an aunt confirmed.

Courtesy of family

The cause of a fire that tore through a Hemet apartment complex Friday morning, leaving a man and three of his children dead, has been determined.

Hemet Fire Department and Police Department determined that the cause of the fire was a result of a Christmas tree sparking an electrical fire.

The fire was reported about 1:15 a.m. near Alessandro Street and Latham Avenue. Four members of the family of seven were killed after the fire started in their residence and spread to nearby units.

The four family members killed in the fire were identified as 41-year-old Juan Moreno, 12-year-old Maria, 4-year-old Janessa and 8-year-old Isaac. Juan Moreno died after entering the burning home in a desperate attempt to rescue the rest of his family, police said.

On Saturday, the aunt of 8-year-old Isaac Moreno confirmed to NBC4 he had died from his injuries. He was previously hospitalized in grave condition.

"This tragedy underscores how quickly a fire can spread, smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan," said City of Hemet Fire Chief, Scott Brown. "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 relative created a GoFundMe account because the father was the sole provider of his family of seven, and it’s going to be very difficult for his wife and surviving children.

A vigil and fundraiser for the Moreno family was scheduled for New Year's Eve. The event will take place between 8 a.m. and noon at the My City Youth Center, 145 N. Tahquitz Ave.

"This tragedy has reached every corner of this valley and it has been uplifting to see all of the passionate hearts that want to help,'' the Facebook page for the event said.

Both the Murrieta and Hemet locations of So Cal Tacos and Beer are donating 25% of proceeds Saturday and Sunday to the Moreno family, according to the restaurant's Facebook page. Customers must mention the Moreno family in order for the donation to be applied to their bill.

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