A father and two children he tried to rescue are dead after a fire broke out in an apartment building in Hemet early Friday morning. A third child remains hospitalized in grave condition, according to police.
The fire was reported just after 1 a.m. at the Olive Apartments in the 100 block of North Alessandro Street.
First responders arrived within minutes to find a portion of the two-story apartment building completely engulfed in flames, Hemet Police Department spokesperson Nathan Miller said.
A 41-year-old man had escaped the apartment with his wife, an 11-year-old child and an infant but went back inside to rescue his other children. “He didn’t make it out,” Miller said.
One neighbor, Francisco Paez, recalls the tragic moments he heard his neighbors screaming for their family,
“She had the other little baby in her hands and she was crying, screaming. And it broke my heart. That’s why I tried to go in there and see what I could do but the flames were already too, they were higher – too dangerous. I couldn’t get in there,” Paez said.
Firefighters later found the man dead inside the apartment building, a new release from the Police Department stated.
Three children were also located and transported to a nearby hospital.
A 4-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl were pronounced dead at the hospital, according to the news release.
The third child, described as an 8-year-old boy, was listed in grave condition.
Authorities have not identified any of the victims.
An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire.
Dozens of residents living in the apartment’s 25 units have been displaced.