Couple dies in Rialto apartment complex fire

RIALTO, Calif. (KABC) -- A Rialto couple died Thursday when they were trapped inside their burning apartment despite efforts to quell the flames from residents in the complex.

Residents said the husband was disabled and had been desperately trying to save his wife, but both ended up losing their lives.

"Fire was everywhere. It was too late," Jasmeen Chambers said. "It's sad because he was crippled. He couldn't get up to help his wife. And she was just hollering and stuff. We couldn't get to her."

Flames erupted inside the second-floor unit of an apartment complex in the 300 block of Merrill Avenue around 7 p.m. Some neighbors heard what sounded like explosions.

Larry Perkins said the man opened the door and flames erupted quickly, but they were not able to get the fire out.

Firefighters were confronted by heavy flames and smoke as they tried to save the victims.

"When fire crews entered the occupancy to search for victims. We did find two victims deceased at the front door. It was a married couple - husband and wife. It looked like he was trying to assist her out of the building," said Chief Brian Park with the Rialto Fire Department.

Fire crews were able to keep the fire from spreading to other units, knocking it down in about 20 minutes. Heartbroken neighbors said the married couple lived in the complex for many years and described them as "very nice people."

"I knew them very well. Her and her husband - he walked on a walker and she would carry a little carrier up to the store just about every day," Ora Lee Harris said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Copyright © 2021 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.