LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fire at a San Fernando Valley home that had no smoke detectors killed a family of four Monday, including two children, authorities said.
The couple, their 12-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son weren't breathing and had no pulses when firefighters kicked open a wooden front door and pulled them from the home, fire Capt. Jaime Moore said.
The mother was huddled with her son and daughter and the father, who had turned 41 on Monday, was in a nearby hallway, he said.
They were within several feet of the front door trying to escape the flames, Moore said.
"Unfortunately ... the area they were found in, there was no means of escape," he said.
About 35 firefighters put out the flames in about 25 minutes.
The man and the children were pronounced dead at hospitals shortly after they were pulled from the fire, and the woman died at about 1:30 p.m., all possibly from smoke inhalation, Moore said.
The fire broke out on the second floor of a metal-clad barn that had been built in the 1960s as a residence, Moore said. It sits behind another home.
The building's owner had a certificate of occupancy that permitted people to live there but lacked the required smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and the owner could face criminal charges, Moore said.
If there had been smoke alarms, "they would have woken up and gotten out of there, we would hope, and watched their house burn down — but it would have been just a house," Moore told the Daily News of Los Angeles.
Laura Campo said the father of her 4-year-old child was a renter in the home and tried to help the family.
"He tried to break down the door and windows to help rescue the children," she told the Los Angeles Times. "But he said he didn't have enough strength."
The first floor had an 800-square-foot living area with two bedrooms and a bathroom, Moore said. The upstairs was used for storage.
Sylmar is below the San Gabriel Mountains foothills, about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.
The cause of the fire was under investigation but arson was ruled out, Moore said.