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151. Fire Kills Two Young Girls
Two sisters, four and six years old, died
a late-night fire that started because of an
power strip. The girls were in an unattached
that had been illegally converted into an apartment.
new apartment did not conform to Los Angeles
building codes. “Such illegal apartments are becoming an
in LA,” said Mayor Gregory Peck. “They endanger
only the renters, but also all their neighbors.”
apartment did not have a single window. There
only one outlet; plugged into that outlet was
cheap power strip. Plugged into the strip were
TV, a small refrigerator, a portable heater, two
, and a hair dryer. That was a recipe
a fire, said one fireman.
The 14-year-old sister
was in charge—their mom worked nights—was in the
when the fire started. She had been using
bathroom. The toilet in the apartment was not
at the time. As she was returning to
apartment, she heard crackling noises. Before she could
the apartment door, flames shot out from the
. The fire spread to the house before the
department arrived. Firemen said that neither the apartment
the house had smoke detectors.
Three days later,
January 11, the city fire department announced that
was giving away free smoke detectors to needy
residents. Also, the city housing authority warned residents
it was going to step up the search
illegal conversions. “Property owners will be forced to
down such structures immediately, at their own cost,
pay a significant fine,” said a spokesman.