Man killed trying to save daughters during apartment fire; 2 young girls also killed

HEMET, Calif. -- A California father died after rushing into a burning apartment building to rescue his two young children who were also killed in the massive fire Friday morning, police said.

The blaze erupted at about 1:15 a.m. in Hemet, California. Investigators believe the fire started in the unit where the family lived.

The 41-year-old father and his two daughters, ages 4 and 12, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Hemet police.

"He went back inside to rescue other family members that were not able to get out. And he wasn't seen alive after that," Hemet police spokesperson Nate Miller said.

An 8-year-old boy was airlifted to a hospital in grave condition, authorities said.

The conditions of the two other family members, the mother and a newborn, were not released. However, officials said the newborn was transported to an area hospital as a precaution.

A neighbor who said he knew the family and spoke with the father just hours before the blaze mourned the loss.

"He was that type of dad, he was going to do any and everything to protect his kids," Robert Prideaux said. "Right now, I don't know to cry or not to cry. My emotions are just going all over the place."

Video from the scene showed neighbors being rushed out of their homes as firefighters raced to put out the flames on the second story of the building. Several of the more than 40 residents in the complex have been displaced, police said.

An investigation continues into the cause of the fire.
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