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1 dead, 1 burned in copper wire theft attempt

October 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A man was killed and a woman was left with critical burns Saturday apparently while attempting to steal copper wire from an electrical vault that exploded in South Gate, according to authorities.The explosion was reported about 4:15 p.m. at an empty lot in the 3000 block of Firestone Boulevard, police said.

Police said officers who responded to the call found the two people next to a burning transformer.

The man died at the scene and the woman was taken to a hospital.

Authorities said they believe the woman was burned when she grabbed her husband trying to save him.

"I just heard a loud explosion and a lady screaming," said Jose Carrasco, who was near the scene. "I saw her half burned and she was crying, asking for help."

Two children, a 3-year-old and 6-year-old, were found in a truck parked near the lot.

Police said they believe they are the couple's children. They were unharmed and taken into protective custody.