SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) — Two people were killed when a fire ripped through a group home for people with special needs in Santa Ana on Wednesday.
When firefighters arrived at a home on the 2100 block of North Hathaway Street, flames had already engulfed a bedroom and the garage. Neighbor Hugo Montes saw the blaze as he was leaving for work and grabbed a garden hose.
“I just felt the heat from the flames on my face. It was real intense, but I couldn’t do anything with that hose. It was just too much,” Montes said.
Firefighters rescued two people from the burning house, which is a licensed group home for developmentally disabled adults. Their 71-year-old caregiver suffered burns and inhaled smoke trying to save two women trapped inside. She suffered serious injuries, including burns to her hands, arms and face. She was being treated at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana.
The Orange County Fire Authority said the two women, ages 48 and 52, died in the fire.
“One was found in her bed, and one was found on the floor in her bedroom. We had four other patients transported,” said Steve Concialdi with OCFA.
Three special needs residents, between 30 and 60 years old, were treated for smoke inhalation. A firefighter was also injured in the fire. He suffered burns to one of his hands during the rescue.
Jean Camacho’s mother is the caregiver, who looked after five adults for several years. Camacho said she also worked at the center and knew the residents well.
Neighbors were awakened to the sound of fire trucks early in the morning. Knowing two developmentally disable people did not survive was heartbreaking for neighbor Mari Lu Velazquez.
“I’m sure either they went into shock, if they knew what was going on. It’s just devastating just to imagine what might have happened,” said Velazquez.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
It was earlier reported that a child was killed in the fire. Officials have since confirmed that there were no children in the house at the time of the blaze