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Electrical Fire Kills 2 Boys Inside House

January 14, 1987|United Press International

SAN BERNARDINO — A fire sparked by an overloaded extension cord swept through a home Tuesday, killing two boys while their mother and her boyfriend tried frantically to reach them, fire officials said.

The bodies of Aaron Sperry, 5, and his 6-year-old brother, Mitchell, were found in the front bedroom of the house, located just south of the San Bernardino city limits, a coroner's spokesman said.

Their mother, Carol Barrows, 22, and her friend, Terry Pilant, 23, told investigators that Pilant's 2-year-old daughter had awakened them at about 2 a.m. when the fire broke out, San Bernardino County fire spokeswoman LoVae Pray-Martines said.

The couple grabbed the girl and ran from the house, later trying to reach the boys by using a garden hose to battle the flames through a broken window, Pray-Martines said. Witnesses said the boys' screams could be heard through the raging fire.

Firefighters arrived shortly after they were called at 2:39 a.m., but by then the flames had gutted the small house, Pray-Martines said. Both Pilant and Barrows suffered smoke inhalation and were taken to San Bernardino County Hospital in serious condition. Pilant also cut his arm trying to reach the boys through the broken window.

Pray-Martines said a television and portable heater were plugged into the light-duty cord.

The house had recently been rented and did not contain a smoke detector, which might have alerted them in time to get the boys out of their room, Pray-Martines said.

Landlords must provide smoke detectors by law, Pray-Martines said, noting that the owner who rented the house to the boys' family may face a misdemeanor charge carrying a fine of $200.

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