Pasadena group home catches on fire; 2 killed


The fire broke out just after 2 a.m. on the 1300 block of El Sereno Avenue. By the time firefighters arrived at the scene, 19 residents were already outside of the home. When fire crews went inside, they found the bodies of two men. The names of the victims have not been released.

"We lost two friends," said Frank Borbon, who was overcome with emotion. "We're like a big family."

Authorities said the 14-bedroom converted house was an assisted living facility for adult men. Some residents, like Daniel Gilmore, were still asleep and barely escaped.

"I couldn't see anything but the flames in the front of the house, so I just had to feel my way down the wall until I got to the back and then I stumbled down the stairs," said Gilmore.

Several homes in the area also were evacuated, but they were not damaged. One witness said it started with an explosion.

"I was actually about to go to sleep and I heard a loud bang. I thought it was a car hitting another car, but I looked through the window and I saw the fire and I just quickly ran to my parents' room and told them there was a fire going on in front of the house," said witness Evelyn Vazquez.

While the fire marshal continues to investigate what caused the blaze, the city of Pasadena is researching the group home's operators.

"As the day unfolds, we're going to find out what this was zoned for, how many residents can occupy it at a time," said Lisa Derderian of the Pasadena Fire Department.

There's also concern that too many people lived at the house and some may have been sleeping in closets. The American Red Cross bused the newly homeless to the Jackie Robinson Community Center where they will live temporarily.

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