A 4-year-old Compton boy tucked a firecracker into his younger sister's left hand Wednesday and lit it, blowing off the 2-year-old girl's hand, officials said.
The girl, who also suffered serious wounds to her abdomen and legs, was rushed to Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center from her family's home. She was in stable condition by late afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The parents, Irma Huizar, 21, and Augustine Herrera, 24, are under investigation for felony child endangerment, said Compton Police Capt. Steven M. Roller.
The youngsters, whose names were not released, have been taken into protective custody by the county Department of Children and Family Services, awaiting the outcome of juvenile proceedings.
"The children had access to illegal fireworks," Roller said. "They had access to a lighter and knew how to use it. And they were unsupervised. That's child endangerment."
The boy climbed a six-foot chest of drawers to reach the firecracker, a few feet from his sleeping parents in the family's one-bedroom apartment, police said. The firecracker was identified as an M-500--the equivalent of half a stick of dynamite, police said.
After crawling off the dresser, the boy retrieved a cigarette lighter from a pocket in his father's pants. Then he put the firecracker in his sister's hand and lighted the dangling fuse, police said.
Herrera and Huizar awoke to the explosion about 9 a.m., police said.
"I heard a loud boom and the whole house shook," said Ernestine Whitaker, whose one-bedroom apartment is separated from the Herrera and Huizar unit by a "tissue-thin" wall.
"I ran over there and that little girl was just lying on the floor, holding up her little arm," Whitaker said.
The remainder of the girl's left hand was later amputated.
"Those are such nice children," Whitaker said. "That little boy, he puts his sister in a red wagon and pulls her back and forth out here all the time."
The parents spent Wednesday at their daughter's side, police said.