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Santa Ana group home fire: 2 killed, 5 injured

Two people were killed when a fire ripped through a group home for people with special needs in Santa Ana on Wednesday.
January 8, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Two people were killed when a fire ripped through a group home for people with special needs in Santa Ana on Wednesday.

Firefighters rescued two people from the burning house, a licensed group home for developmentally disabled adults, located on the 2100 block of North Hathaway Street.

A 71-year-old caregiver suffered burns and inhaled smoke trying to save two women trapped inside. She suffered injuries, including moderate burns to her hands, arms and face. She was being treated at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana.

Three special-needs residents, between 30 and 60 years old, were treated for smoke inhalation. A firefighter was also injured in the fire. He suffered burns to one of his hands during the rescue.

The Orange County Fire Authority said two women, ages 48 and 52, died in the fire. Officials said the coroner may have to rely on dental records to positively identify the two bodies.

"One was found in her bed, and one was found on the floor in her bedroom. We had four other patients transported," said OCFA spokesman Steve Concialdi.

Gloria Uy is one of the group home's administrators. She said the women just recently went through fire training.

"They teach our clients how to get up when they hear the alarm. But they were sleeping," said Uy.

Neighbors were awakened to the sound of fire trucks early in the morning. When firefighters arrived at the house, flames had already engulfed a bedroom and the garage.

Neighbor Hugo Montes saw the blaze as he was leaving for work and grabbed a garden hose.

"I just felt the heat from the flames on my face. It was real intense, but I couldn't do anything with that hose. It was just too much," Montes said.

Knowing two developmentally disabled people did not survive was heartbreaking for neighbor Mari Lu Velazquez.

"I'm sure either they went into shock, if they knew what was going on. It's just devastating just to imagine what might have happened," said Velazquez.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

It was earlier reported that a child was killed in the fire. Officials have since confirmed that there were no children in the house at the time of the blaze.

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