FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Two children are dead after a house fire Tuesday morning, according to Fresno Fire officials.
Fire crews responded to the area of Robinson and Brawley avenues around 6:30 a.m.
“This is a tragedy, any house fire is but this one goes a little deeper,” said Fire Chief Kerri Donis. “It was also the first day on the job for two firefighters and they were the first in to find the victims.”
In a news conference, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said that the children were 5 and 18 months old. The person investigators believe to be the mother of the children was also burned, but was able to make it out of the house. Initial reports indicate that the woman was “engulfed in flames” and had to “roll around on the ground” to extinguish the fire.
She was taken to an area hospital where Chief Balderrama says she “is not doing very well.”
“I was devastated. That it could happen to anybody but to poor children?” said neighbor Judi Petersen. “It made me sick. I called and told my mother, and my mother who is 88 started crying.”
A suspect, identified as a 29-year-old male who was living at the residence was also taken to an area hospital. Chief Balderrama said the man will be placed under arrest and will face two counts of murder, and felony arson.
The father of the children was at work, according to Police Chief Balderrama.
“I can’t imagine being the husband who left this morning to provide for the family, and to get a phone call that your wife is in the hospital burned and your two children are deceased,” said Balderrama.
Officials said the suspect and victims are related but said they are not immediate family. The suspect is being treated for his injuries at the hospital.