SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Authorities Wednesday publicly identified two members of an extended family — a 9-year-old girl and her 80-year-old grandfather — killed this week in a predawn fire that engulfed the man’s home near Mount Soledad.
Robert Keefe and his granddaughter Angie succumbed to burn injuries and smoke inhalation as flames spread through the house in the 2500 block of Caminito La Paz in La Jolla early Monday, according to the county Medical Examiner’s Office.
Emergency personnel arriving at the scene of the blaze about 3:45 a.m. found the two-story residence fully enveloped in flames. Police evacuated nearby homes as crews battled the blaze, which took more than an hour to fully extinguish, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Alec Phillipp said.
Paramedics took two other members of the family — Keefe’s adult son and 11-year-old granddaughter — to UCSD Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.
Firefighters found the body of the younger girl, who had autism, in her bed and that of her grandfather, who had difficulty walking, next to his.
The children’s father told investigators his daughters were spending the night at the house and were upstairs sleeping prior to the start of the fire, as was their grandfather. The younger man was downstairs smoking in the early hours of the morning when he decided to pour kerosene on a T-shirt and burn it in his living-room fireplace, he said. He then fell asleep, awakening some time later to find his home ablaze.
After trying in vain to put out the flames, the man ran outside to the back of the home, yelling for his daughters to jump from the second-floor bedroom where they were staying the night, he told authorities. The older girl did, landing in his arms, but her sister remained inside, the man told authorities.
Investigations into the cause of the fire, which caused an estimated $1 million worth of damage, remained ongoing as of Wednesday afternoon, Phillipp said.