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

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

The blaze erupted at about 1:15 a.m. near the intersection of Alessandro Street and Latham Avenue. Investigators believe the fire started in the unit where the family lived.

Family and friends have identified the 41-year-old father as Juan Moreno and his daughters as 4-year-old Janessa and 12-year-old Maria. They 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.

Moreno's 8-year-old son was airlifted and is listed in grave condition. His wife and two other children, including a newborn, made it out okay, authorities said.

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.

A GoFundMe page has been setup to help Moreno's wife and surviving children.

"They are definitely going to need help. Christina is a stay-at-home-mom. She's got the other children so she is going to need as much help as possible," said family friend, Quianta Thomas.

An investigation continues into the cause of the fire.
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