Three children and their mother were killed in a Southern California mobile home fire on Christmas morning, while the family’s father survived the fast-moving blaze.
Neighbors of the home in Big Bear Lake called 911 to report the fire just before 6 a.m. Friday, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.
When the first deputy arrived, the home was fully engulfed and the family’s injured father was outside. The father said his family was still inside but he couldn’t get in because of the extent of the fire.
Big Bear Lake firefighters arrived and attempted rescue efforts but had to pull back because the roof was about to collapse.
The three children killed were a 6-month-old girl, a 3-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl, said sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Lacy, commander of the department’s coroner division.
The children’s mother was 34, he said.
"This is a human tragedy," Lacy told The Associated Press. "This is a horrible thing on Christmas Day. Especially when you find out there’s a baby involved, it really tugs at your heart strings."
The father was airlifted to a hospital for treatment in unknown condition.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Lacy said the father told investigators that he awoke Christmas morning to the smell of smoke and then went outside to investigate.
"He sees the whole side of his trailer on fire and he calls to his wife to get the kids out," Lacy said. "Before she can get out and before he can get back in to help, the mobile home becomes fully engulfed."
Lacy said firefighters were able to pull the mother out of the home and begin life-saving efforts before she died. They were unable to try to save the children because of the roof collapse.
Lacy said the family had just moved to Big Bear Lake in the fall, though he didn’t know from where they came.
Big Bear Lake is a small city in the San Bernardino Mountains about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.
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