‘It’s devastating:’ Investigators work to determine what sparked Tulare County house fire that killed 4-year-old boy

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The child's mother was away helping fight the SQF Complex Fire when this happened

TULARE COUNTY, California (KGPE) — Tragedy struck in Tulare County after a 4-year-old boy died in a house fire. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said the boy’s mother was helping fight the SQF Complex Fire when it happened.

The Tulare County Fire Department said the fire happened around 4:30 a.m. Friday at a home near Road 164 and Avenue 320, southeast of Ivanhoe.

After getting the initial call, Tulare County Fire crews and Tulare County Sheriff’s deputies responded fast. Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said a 13-year-old boy was inside the home at the time, watching his neighbor’s two young children.

“The smoke alerted the 13-year-old and he went next door to his dad to try to get help,” Boudreaux said.

The teen made it out with one of the children, a 6-year-old girl. But, a 4-year-old boy was still inside by the time crews arrived.

The smoke made things difficult for crews to rescue the boy.

“The initial report is that the smoke and fire was just too big for anyone to get in and rescue the small child,” Boudreaux said.

By the time crews were able to get the 4-year-old out, he was already dead.

Boudreaux said the victim’s mother has been operating a water tender to help fire crews’ efforts against the SQF Complex Fire. So, for another fire to do this to her, it’s heartbreaking.

“Our hearts really go out to the families during this time. It’s devastating as you can imagine. We just pray they receive peace during this time,” he said. “[This is all] so ironic.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Tulare County Fire was still at the home in the afternoon. Capt. Joanne Bear said the estimated cost of damage is over $80,000, she adds the home is unlivable.

One firefighter did get hurt while fighting this fire, but by the afternoon Tulare County Fire said they have been treated and released from the hospital.

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