Boy Dies and Siblings Critically Injured in San Diego Fire

A 12-year-old boy died and two of his siblings were critically injured when a fire, possibly sparked by a space heater, ripped through a Mount Hope home early Monday morning, reports

Firefighters rushed to the burning house on J Street near Toyne Street where the three children were trapped. When they arrived about 12:30 a.m., the home was already engulfed in flames, San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Lee Swanson said.

Crews attacked the fire and firefighters found the children in a back bedroom. Two of them — a girl and a boy believed to be around 6 and 8 — were carried out of the home and rushed to the hospital. The oldest child had died.

The kids had been home with a babysitter and her boyfriend when the fire broke out. The woman’s boyfriend was seriously burned and was taken to a hospital. Two firefighters also were hurt; one had burns to his ears and the other had a knee injury..

A neighbor, Jose Hernandez, stood feet from the charred and gutted home late Monday morning. Piles of burned belongings were out front, children’s books among the debris.

He said he had been getting ready for bed when he noticed flames coming from the roof. Another neighbor broke down the home’s front door, but it was too hot and smoky to get inside, Hernandez said. They both began breaking windows on the side of the house after hearing the children screaming inside, but they couldn’t reach them before the house ignited.

“It was like ‘whoosh.’ That’s what you heard. We were thrown back,” he said.

Hernandez said the children’s mother, Juanita Castro, was on her way back to San Diego after dropping her daughter off near Chico State University. Neighbors called to tell her of the fire, but no one wanted to tell her one of her sons had died, he said.

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