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31 People Left Homeless After House Fire

Five people were injured in a fire sparked by an unattended candle early Friday in a home occupied by an extended family of 31 relatives.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to the blaze just after 2 a.m. in the 3000 block of Hope Street in Walnut Park, according to officials.

Adults scrambled to get infants and children outside.

"I grabbed a blanket and I ran inside my mom's room," said Daisy Talavera. "And I got the babies from the crib."

An 11-year-old boy, sleeping in the living room where the fire started, suffered second degree burns on his face, according to an aunt, Guadalupe Ochoa.

Ochoa praised alert neighbors next door for quickly turning a garden hose on the fire, slowing its spread before firefighters arrived. It took 20 minutes to put it out.

Damage was limited to the living room, but smoke filled the entire, two-story house, and Los Angeles County officials yellow-tagged it.

The origin was traced to curtains near where candles had been burning. Ochoa said it appeared a pet cat may have knocked over the candles.    

The rambling house was purchased just over a decade ago by Ochoa's inlaws, envisioning it as home for their eight adult children and their growing families.

Additions giving the house more room than others in the neighborhood had been done during previous ownership, she said. Her father in law had just spent thousands on new windows and other improvements over the summer.

"The kids are all sad, because just around Thanksgiving they don't have a house," said Ochoa. "It's devastating." 

The American Red Cross was assisting with temporary emergency housing vouchers. Some of the displaced were making arrangements to stay at the homes of other relatives with homes in the area.

The office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis also promised the relatives help.

"We have offered our County services and are currently gathering diapers, food, and other basic needs for them and plan to deliver those items soon," according to a written Solis statement.

Ochoa's father in law is hopeful the damage is repairable and the house can be restored, Ochoa said.

If you would like to donate to a GoFundMe account set up to help the family, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts 7.9 percent of all funds raised in the form of platform and payment processing charges.

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