A fire blamed on candles used to light an inner-city apartment without electricity killed one woman and left another woman and her 3-year-old daughter critically burned. Expanded metal window screens trapped the three people early Thursday inside the back unit of a two-story apartment complex in the 300 block of W. 56th street, officials said.
Dedra Marshall and her daughter Drena suffered second- and third-degree burns and were in critical but stable condition at County-USC Medical Center, after being transferred from Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center. The woman who was killed did not live in the apartment and could not be immediately identified by the coroner's office, a spokesman said.
The blaze broke out at 3:25 a.m. in the low-income neighborhood south of downtown. It was put out in 13 minutes by firefighters using power saws to cut through the metal screens and iron bars that were protecting the property.
The iron bars had the "quick-release" mechanism required by a 1985 fire safety city ordinance--but not the expanded metal screens.
"They defeated the purpose by installing the quick release bars (without removing the metal windows)," said Inspector Wiley L. Conley from the Department of Building and Safety, as he surveyed the damage.