Firefighters say only one bedroom burned at the home on Libbie Lane and 10th Avenue in Hanford. But the overwhelming smoke likely left two others paralyzed and unable to get out on their own. A 31-year-old who was inside the home is now on life support and another is in critical condition
Investigators are still trying to pinpoint the cause of the fire. Only one person made it out of the home safe, but now he must deal with heartbreak. His daughter is on life support, his wife is in critical condition and his brother-in-law died in the fire.
Investigators say the deadly fire started in the front bedroom of a home on Heath Street early Sunday morning. Only coils remained from two twin mattresses that were in the room that firefighters say was consumed by flames when they pulled up.
"The bedroom went to what we call flashover which means everything in the room is on fire but it didn't really spread to the rest of the house," Rick Smith with the Kings County Fire Department said.
Crews say the smoke alarms were working at the time and it is unclear why three people in the home had to be rescued by firefighters. Neighbors say the fire started in Tia Howard's room. Firefighters aren't sure if she was sleeping in it when her dad awoke to the frightening scene.
"He just said that he woke up because it was smoky in the house and then he grabbed the fire extinguisher because he saw flames coming from his daughter's bed and he tried to put it out. Then he ran to the kitchen to get another one. But it was too late, it was already too late," neighbor Anthony Trudell said.
Helpless neighbors said they watched as 57-year-old Teddy Murray was brought out of the home lifeless. He died at the scene. Emergency crews say Murray was mentally challenged but did not have any physical limitations. Neighbors say he was always conversational and complimentary.
"He would talk to you no matter what. He would tell you hi, how's your day? You have a nice haircut. Just overall, great guy," neighbor Anthony Garcia said.
Firefighters aren't sure what sparked the fire that appears to be accidental. They didn't find many clues, except for an overloaded electrical outlet. Tia's father Charles was the only one to make it out of the home unhurt--neighbors say he is devastated.
"All he had was his shorts on, no shirt, no socks, no nothing. So I gave him my sweater and my neighbor gave him some socks, I put it on for him, we sat him down in a chair to calm down because he was shaking a lot," Garcia said.