Four members of a San Diego family were killed just days after Christmas when their Christmas tree caught fire in their apartment.
On December 27, the fire broke out around 1:15 a.m. According to NBC 7, the tree sparked an electrical fire that spread through two apartments that were housing a family of seven.
Forty-one-year-old Juan Moreno, who is described as a family man, ran into the apartment in an attempt to save his family members who were trapped by the flames.
Father Dies While Trying to Save Children From Apartment Fire
Hemet police Lieutenant Nate Miller told NBC Los Angeles, “Our hearts go out to the family. It’s my understanding that the 41-year-old male went back inside to rescue other family members. He wasn’t seen alive after that.”
Miller added, “It’s a terrible situation. As a father myself, I think a lot of us would think about going back in.” Sadly, despite his heroic efforts, Moreno died while trying to save his children. The other three victims were identified as 12-year-old Maria, 4-year-old Janessa, and 8-year-old Isaac.
According to NBC Los Angeles, Janessa was known for being a “daddy’s girl,” while Maria was the oldest of the siblings, who is described as an outgoing young girl.
Juan’s wife Christina, her baby, and their 11-year-old daughter Jaylynn survived. Forty other people who lived in the complex had to be evacuated.
Following the tragedy, the City of Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown said to NBC 7, “This tragedy underscores how quickly a fire can spread, smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan.”
Brown continued, “Smoke alarms provide that critical early warning so you can get out quickly and are an important part of a home fire escape plan.” It’s unclear if the family had working smoke detectors in their apartments.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Moreno’s wife and his surviving children. According to NBC 7, Moreno was his family’s sole provider, so the money raised through the GoFundMe campaign will be used to help them stay afloat during this difficult time.
A vigil and an additional fundraiser for the grieving family is set to take place on New Year’s Eve.
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