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Crenshaw apartment fire kills teen twins

August 12, 2010 12:16:54 AM PDT
Flames ripped through an apartment complex in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, killing two 15-year-old boys early Thursday morning.Authorities responded to the blaze along the 4000 block of Ursula Avenue at 3:13 a.m. One apartment was already fully involved by the time firefighters arrived.

Residents found themselves waking up to smoke and flames.

"I woke up and I heard fire. When I looked out the back window, all I (saw) was flames coming up," said resident Leah Hubbard. "I thought it was in my apartment, and when I ran out, everyone was trying to get the lady's door open."

The apartment complex fire broke out just after 3 a.m. Thursday. Firefighters and neighbors helped an expectant mother get her children out of a burning apartment. But the woman's other two children, her two oldest, 15-year-old twins, did not make it.

The victims were twin boys. The family identified them as Eric and Edward Marroquin. The father said one of the twins was a diabetic, while the other was autistic.

Neighbors say the boys slept with the door to their room locked and had candles inside.

Neighbors tried to help by aiming hoses at the burning unit before firefighters arrived.

"We all ran outside," said Vincent Jenkins, a neighbor. "The guys from upstairs came downstairs to help us and they went in with the water hose, then the fire extinguishers, while we were helping pulling the hose and getting the kids upstairs and everything, so it was just chaos at like 3 o'clock in the morning."

The fire was declared a knockdown within seven minutes.

There were smoke detectors in the unit, but officials are not sure if they were working. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. An official said according to preliminary investigation, the fire may have been an accident.

"Our arson investigators are going to be here probably for the majority of the day trying to see if they can find out how it started, so they'll get through here and they'll sift," said L.A. City Fire Battalion Chief Ronnie Villanueva. "Our dogs that were already through here, our dog 'Major,' he went through there and didn't have any hits whatsoever, so right now it's just a matter of time when we'll find out what happened."

The people who live at 4038 South Ursula Avenue consider themselves one big family. The deaths of Eric and Edward have hit them all pretty hard.

"Very nice boys. They played good," said Michelle Jackson, a neighbor. "They loved us like they were our own kids, you know what I mean, so it's a sad loss right now."

"It's really hard on everybody to see her go through that, 'cause she loved her kids," said neighbor Hope Oliver.

A crisis response team from the city of L.A. was on scene to help the family and neighbors cope with the loss.

One neighbor said they're trying to organize some fundraisers to help the family with the twins' funeral expenses.


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