April 27, 1997 in Nation/World

9 Die As Dogs, Bars Hinder Firefighters Fire Investigators Say Victims All Members Of Same Family

Associated Press
 
Tags:Death

Nine people, including five children, died Saturday in a house fire that firefighters had trouble reaching because of barred windows, burning cars and pit bulls.

Seven people, including three firefighters, were injured.

A neighbor said an elderly woman lived in the house with three daughters, a son and nine grandchildren, though officials said some grandchildren were visiting for the weekend.

“They were all in this yard yesterday, happy children riding their bikes and playing. That’s so sad,” said Ethel Brown, who lives two doors down from the burned house.

The victims’ names were not released.

The bodies were found in hallways, bedrooms and closets after the 6 a.m. fire in this town about 30 miles south of San Francisco, fire Capt. Harold Schapelhouman said.

“It’s a very tragic scene,” he said.

Arson dogs sniffed through the charred home’s remains.

Officials said the fire, which was extinguished in a half-hour, probably started in the home’s carport.

Firefighters were hampered by two “hyped-up” pit bulls in the back yard, bars on the windows and burning cars that blocked the doorway and carport, Schapelhouman said.

The dogs were unhurt and were taken to the local shelter.

Among the injured were a 36-year-old man in critical condition, a 9-year-old boy in stable condition and a 28-year-old woman in fair condition.

A 78-year-old woman was treated for respiratory problems and released.

Two firefighters had minor burns and another had breathing problems.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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