Mother, two sons die in apartment blaze

The Associated Press
Tuesday March 19, 2002

DALY CITY — A woman and her two young sons died Monday when they were overcome by thick smoke while trying to escape an apartment fire, officials said. 

The 34-year-old woman and the boys, ages 3 and 6, were found in a second-floor hallway. Four other residents were taken to hospitals for treatment, according to Daly City Fire Marshal David Dewey. 

The three succumbed to smoke inhalation in a stairwell after smoke from the fire poured through an open fire door on the second floor, Dewey said. 

“It was really needless. People made a tragic decision and went from and area that was safe into an area that was not safe,” Dewey said. The woman’s mother, who stayed in the apartment and went to the balcony, survived. 

The victims’ names were being withheld pending notification of family members, Dewey said. 

About 50 firefighters battled the four-alarm blaze, which began around 2:30 a.m. It was contained about 4 a.m. 

No firefighters were injured in the fire, which apparently broke out on the second floor of the building and burned up into the third floor, Dewey said. 

Investigators suspect the origin may have been a malfunction in a lamp in a second-floor unit, though the damage in the apartment was so bad that was little evidence left, according to Dewey. 

Thirty people were displaced by the flames. They were taken by bus to the nearby Serramonte Shopping Center to be fed and interviewed by investigators.