SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- An early-morning 3-alarm fire at an apartment building in San Jose claimed three lives and leaving a fourth person in critical condition, a fire department spokesman said.
San Jose fire officials said they began receiving 911 calls at around 5 a.m. from an apartment house in the 500 block of Ninth Street near San Jose State University
"We received numerous calls reporting an apartment building fire," said Joshua Padron, the acting San Jose Fire public information officer. "When the fire units arrived, they reported heavy flames and smoke coming from the second floor."
Arriving firefighters immediately went into rescue mode and pulled three residents off a balcony and helped another out of a rear window.
"They (the firefighters) got reports of trapped residents," Padron said.
Four residents were trapped inside the apartment where the blaze began. Despite CPR attempts two were declared dead at the scene. The two others were taken to a local hospital with critical injuries. One of them has since died.
Next-door neighbor Jomar Laxsena said he banged on the door to warn the people but he could only watch helplessly as the flames and smoke engulfed the family in the upstairs apartment.
"And we see the dad asking for help in the window. His hands were going like this. It was really terrifying," Laxsena told KPIX.
The building has four units, two upstairs and one downstairs, Padron said. Only the one upstairs unit burned but the rest of the building was evacuated because smoke and water got into all the other units, he said.
The smoky fire was brought under control in about 45 minutes.
Names of the victims have not been released. According to the Santa Clara County coroner's office, the two victims were siblings, a 14-year-old girl and a 21-year-old man.
The father and mother were taken to the hospital, where the mother, a 48-year-old, died later.
"I'm just really broken up right now. There just aren't words to express how I'm feeling," said another neighbor, Wayne Pronge.
Padron noted that fire trucks and personnel were expected to be on the scene at Ninth and Reed streets mopping up and conducting investigations throughout the day, so motorists should expect delays in the area.
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