Fresno mom arrested for leaving kids home alone before apartment fire

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno police have arrested the mother of three children who were seriously hurt in a fire last Sunday.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer used a diagram of the apartment to show the media where the children were found by firefighters. He says the fact the three children were left alone makes this a case of child cruelty.

Chief Jerry Dyer said, "Certainly a one-year-old, three-year-old, and four-year-old are not capable of caring for themselves and that's why Jamela Brown has been arrested on a felony charge of child cruelty and is being booked into Fresno County jail."

Chief Dyer says the mother, who is just 19-years-old, initially told police and firefighters the children were left in the care of an adult when she went to the store. But firefighters said the children were locked in alone. Video from a firefighters camera shows the dramatic rescues. The police chief said charging the mother with a crime sends a message to the community.

"We know there are latch key kids in our city," explained Chief Dyer. We know there are times when parents leave their children unattended. But it is their responsibility to leave those children with someone responsible."

Chief Dyer says the children are all hospitalized in critical but stable condition with severe smoke inhalation. All are on ventilators, but are expected to make a recovery, but will suffer long term health problems as a result.

The children are being cared for at Valley Childrens Hospital. Jamela Brown is in the Fresno County jail. Fire investigators say the fire was started by an electrical problem.

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