What to Know
- The deadly house fire happened at around 12:25 a.m. on May 6 at a home on a cul-de-sac on Coralwood Court in Chula Vista.
- Four people were inside the house: a woman, man, and the man's two children.
- The kids, believed to be around 4 and 5 years old, died in the fire; the adults survived.
Two children were killed overnight when a fire ripped through a home in San Diego’s South Bay, officials confirmed. Here's what we know, so far.
The fire sparked around 12:25 a.m. at a home along a cul-de-sac on the 200 block of Coralwood Court in Chula Vista. The neighborhood is south of Bonita Road and west of Interstate 805.
Chula Vista Fire Department Capt. Linda D’Orsi told NBC 7 a woman, a man, and two kids were inside. As the flames swallowed the house, the adults were able to escape, but the kids were not able to get out. The children died at the scene, D'Orsi said.
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D’Orsi said the man is the father of the kids, but the woman is not the mother. She said the dad suffered burn injuries when he tried to run back inside the house to get his kids.
CVFD Battalion Chief Ray Smith told NBC 7 that when firefighters arrived, the house was engulfed in flames. Crews rushed to douse the home with water while trying to rescue the people inside.
"There was a lot of fire there, right in front," he explained.
Smith said firefighters were able to find the two children inside the home after one of the adult survivors pointed crews in the right direction. But it was too late.
The ages of the children who died in the house fire have not yet been released by officials, but neighbors and friends told NBC 7 they were little boys between the ages of 4 and 5.
Thursday afternoon, the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District confirmed one of the children was a kindergarten student at Avondale Elementary School in Spring Valley. Counselors will be available at the school for the rest of the week, according to the district.
The district's superintendent later confirmed the father is an employee of the district.
"I can confirm that he is a beloved school employee, but I am not able to provide any additional identifying information. We are reeling from this loss and are focused on supporting our students and the family through this difficult time," superintendent David Feliciano said.
Footage from the scene of the deadly fire Thursday showed the father of the children being rolled away in a stretcher as neighbors, horrified, watched from the curb. The CVFD said the man was taken to UC San Diego Burn Center with severe burn injuries. As of 11 a.m., there was no update on his condition. The woman was not hurt in the fire.
The names of the father and the boys have not yet been released by investigators.
Fire investigators remained at the scene throughout Thursday morning. The home was scorched and destroyed.
The CVFD said a total of 38 personnel had worked the fire, with six engines, a ladder truck, a rescue crew, and four battalion chiefs, plus medical first-responders.
Smith said investigators do not yet know how or where the fire sparked; they’re looking into whether the home was equipped with smoke detectors. The battalion chief said investigators would release updates as they pieced together more evidence.
Smith called the deadly house fire tragic and extremely difficult to process for his crew, who goes into emergency response always with the goal to save lives.
"This is always tragic. Most of these firefighters, they're married with families and kids, so as you can imagine, it's very difficult,” Smith added.
Smith said smoke detectors are one’s first line of defense in a house fire. The next is always knowing two safe ways out of your home in case of an emergency.
“You want to talk to your kids and make sure they know two ways out of your home,” he explained. “You always want to have a meeting place, whether it's a mailbox or the old oak tree, that way if they all go out in different directions, they can all meet up at the meeting place. And it helps us to know when everybody is out, and they're out safely.”
The battalion chief also said that in a house fire, it’s best to get low to the ground and crawl out.
“It’s a cooler, cleaner environment,” he said.
The CVFD said the flames were knocked down within 40 minutes and firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading to neighboring homes.
No one else was injured and no other homes were damaged.
A Neighborhood, Horrified
Elvira Perez’s sister and niece live in the cul-de-sac. Overnight, Perez said they could hear people yelling as the fire tore through their neighbor’s house.
As they ran outside to see what was happening, Perez said her family saw the adults running out of the burning home.
Perez said neighbors asked if there was anyone else in the house.
Perez said the adults gasped and said, “The kids!”
“They ran inside to get them, and they were burned already,” Perez said, fighting back tears. “That is very upsetting. Look at the house – it got burned inside – and they forgot to get the kids out.”
Officials have not yet confirmed if this is how the events unfolded outside the home during the fire. NBC 7 is gathering more details.
Perez said her family didn’t know the neighbors well, but she remembers seeing the kids around the cul-de-sac.
“The kids were always around the other kids – with the neighbors, playing,” she told NBC 7.
Perez said her niece called 911.
Chula Vista resident John Duge told NBC 7 he didn’t know the family involved in the fire, but said the incident was gut-wrenching.
“I wish I had been acquainted with them,” Duge told NBC 7. “You don’t know how long you’re going to have with your neighbors. You never know what’s going to happen – things happen you’d never expect.”
Neighbors created a makeshift memorial for the boys in front of the home Thursday, leaving flowers, balloons, and stuffed animals. Many neighbors said they remembered the kids as happy, playful brothers who enjoyed running around the cul-de-sac with the other neighborhood kids.
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