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Wednesday, February 20 , 2019, 10:46 pm | Overcast 49º


4-Year-Old Boy Dies in Santa Maria House Fire

The blaze, which started in a bedroom where two children were playing, is ruled accidental

A 4-year-old Santa Maria boy died Wednesday in a house fire that investigators said Thursday has been ruled accidental.

The Santa Maria Fire Department responded about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday to the home at 812 Marcia Way. Initial reports indicated children were trapped inside the burning structure.

When crews arrived, the upstairs bedroom was fully engulfed, and bystanders told firefighters two children were inside, according to Battalion Chief Dan Orr.

He said a coordinated attack that included ventilating the roof of the structure helped keep the blaze contained to the front bedroom area and provided the best chance of survival for anyone inside.

Santa Maria police officers searched the downstairs area of the home and found 5-year-old Jesus Garcia locked in a bathroom. He was taken from the home to an ambulance, where he was determined to be uninjured and was returned to his mother.

Meanwhile, firefighters found the body of 4-year-old Juan Rodriguez inside the front bedroom. Orr said the child had succumbed to the heat and smoke, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The fire was brought under control within 45 minutes of the initial dispatch.

Investigators continuing their work Thursday ruled the fire accidental, and said it started in the middle of the room next to a mattress, according to Orr. He added that it appeared an open-flame device was involved.

The two boys were upstairs playing in the bedroom when the fire started, while the mother was downstairs cooking in the kitchen.

Orr said 12 people, including eight children, lived in the home.

The upstairs of the home was a complete loss, and preliminary damages were estimated at $150,000 for the structure and $30,000 for contents.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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