3 found dead in Calif. apartment blaze; 3 injured

AP News
Posted: Dec 30, 2012 11:24 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A couple and their granddaughter were killed and three others were injured — including a police officer credited with saving at least one person — in a late-night fire at a Northern California apartment complex, authorities said Sunday.

The officer and firefighters called to the complex shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday found people trapped in an apartment on the second floor of the building, San Jose Fire Department Capt. Mary Gutierrez said.

The police officer, who has not been named, entered the burning apartment and pulled at least one person to safety, Gutierrez said.

"He was one of the first on the scene," Gutierrez said. "He had a fire extinguisher, entered the burning apartment and performed at least one rescue. He got somebody out of that burning apartment."

After firefighters put the fire out, the bodies of a man, a woman and a child were recovered, Gutierrez said.

A woman who escaped the fire told the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/12Rk1Kp ) she lost her parents, Bulmaro and Mariana Maldonado, and 4-year-old daughter Kyra in the blaze.

"I just woke up, and the room was on fire," Cecilia Maldonado said.

The police officer was one of three people taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, Gutierrez said. She did not know the condition of the officer or of the two other people hospitalized. Their names have not been released, and San Jose police did not immediately return a call seeking information about the officer.

The Mercury News reported the injured included a relative in the apartment, 23-year-old Juan Carlos Maldonado, who was sent to the intensive care unit.

The fire destroyed the family's apartment and damaged one below. It left 56 people in the complex homeless, and authorities said they could be allowed back in their apartments after a few days.

They were assisted by the American Red Cross, with about half being put up in hotels, said Red Cross spokeswoman Kathleen Maclay.

Meanwhile, investigators were looking through the rubble of the apartment and interviewing witnesses as they tried to determine what sparked the fire.