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Angeles County | Paramount

Boy Killed in House Fire

July 02, 1998

A 6-year-old boy was killed in bed when a predawn fire tore through a two-bedroom townhouse in Paramount on Wednesday, officials said.

Lamar Barnett died despite his father's frantic efforts to scale the front wall of the home once he realized Lamar was still inside, neighbors said.

The cause of death was not immediately available, but Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Mark Talbot said the boy was found in his bed and probably died while sleeping. Five other family members escaped unhurt. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Eyewitnesses said they were awakened by an explosion and the sound of smashing glass about 12:45 a.m. in the 16800 block of Passage Avenue, Talbot said.

Neighbors--afraid that flames would spread to their homes--escaped by climbing onto their roofs before firefighters arrived to rescue them, eyewitnesses said.

The flames quickly destroyed the Barnett family's stairwell, forcing firefighters to smash down walls between the adjacent homes in an attempt to reach Lamar, who was sleeping upstairs.

Neighbors fondly recalled the popular little boy, who used to sing hymns outside his house.

"We all go to work and we just know each other only to say 'Hello,' but Lamar was the one person we all had in common," said Frances English, a next-door neighbor of the Barnetts. "He was a very sweet, little boy."

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