House fire kills 2 young boys in Merced

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An investigation is underway this after a late night fire claimed the lives of two children and injured a firefighter in the North Valley. (KFSN)

Firefighters found two children dead after a house fire in south Merced.

The Merced Fire Department, along with CAL FIRE crews and the Fresno Fire Department helped investigate the scene.

The home is located near West 10th and Q Streets. Investigators brought dogs to determine if there were any flammable liquids around the home.

Manuel Cruz is the homeowner. He says the victims were two boys, and that they were five and three years old.

"They're good kids. Always happy, running around being kids."

Fire officials say the call came in around 10 pm on Monday night and crews arrived in less than five minutes to find the back of the home engulfed in flames.

Merced Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson says they tried to rescue the kids inside, but the attempt left a firefighter with severe burns.

"One of our firefighters went in leading with hose line helping the truck company. The fire was so hot, even with all his protective equipment he received third-degree burns in his ear, and second-degree burns on his feet from melted debris."

Neighbors said the flames exploded in size within minutes.

"I started hearing a lady screaming hysterically. I was trying to figure out what she was trying to say. I couldn't really understand. I just heard get my kids out," said neighbor Patricia Trejo.

Cruz said the mother and her two kids were renting out a room. He said he wasn't home when the fire broke out, but arrived to see his house engulfed in flames.

"The back area was just flames, like big flames. It was crazy."

Wilkinson said the fire is still under investigation, and there still isn't a cause for the fire. He said the Merced County Sheriff's office will conduct an autopsy on the children to determine exactly how they died.

Merced Police investigators are also speaking with witnesses.
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