Watch CBS News

Kind-hearted couple dies in possible electrical fire in San Bernardino

San Bernardino family grieves the death of kind-hearted and animal-loving couple
San Bernardino family grieves the death of kind-hearted and animal-loving couple 02:19

Aside from the police tape and the holes cut in the roof to ventilate the smoke, there were not many outward signs of the fire that burned inside Karissa Finger's grandparents' home.

"We smelled the smoke and we busted the one window," she said. "We were not getting not getting a response or anything."

By the time Karissa got to her grandparents' house, it was too late. Firefighters arrived to the Carty's home in six minutes but when they got there it was covered in heavy smoke.

"They weren't in their room where they would normally be," Finger said. "They were probably trying to save their animals."

Finger believes that her grandparents, 81-year-old Carol and 82-year-old James Carty, died from inhaling too much smoke while trying to rescue their pets from the blaze. She added that the electrical fire may have started in a room where her grandparents kept heating pads plugged in for their birds.

"They were very, very nice people," said the victims' son James Carty. "Very loving. And they showed it to everybody."

Their son said dozens of people have since stopped by his parents' house to leave flowers. Many took time to tell him what his parents meant to them and how often they reached out to people in the neighborhood. In the over 56 years they lived in that home many recounted the times the couple lent a helping hand or a hug. 

"Stranger or not, she'd hug you," said Carty. 

Their kindness is why neighbors have banned together to help pay for the couples' funeral expenses, a campaign searchable online by "Carol and James Carty." Their son said if there's any small comfort in his parents' passing it's this:

"They both died at the same time, and I know there's a heaven," he said. "I believe, and I figure, maybe, they went to heaven holding hands."

The San Bernardino County Fire Department said fatal fires like these are not only hard on families but first responders too. 

The department said they will continue to investigate the cause of the fire. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.