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Four Die In Apartment Fire

November 23, 1987

CLEVELAND (AP) _ A woman and three children died early Sunday in a fire that gutted a two- story apartment building.

Dr. Elizabeth K. Balraj, Cuyahoga County coroner, said the victims died of smoke inhalation. All were severely burned, a coroner’s staff member said.

The dead were identified as Paulette Harden; 22, Lamont L. Harden, 6; Donita Harden, 2; and Denise Harden, 6 months. Donita and Denise were Ms. Harden’s children; Lamont was believed to be her brother.

Firefighters said the blaze began near a couch in the living room in Ms. Harden’s apartment, on the first floor of a brick, 1920s-era four-unit building.

Two paramedics tried to enter the building in an unsuccessful rescue attempt and were hospitalized for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Fire Lt. Donald Pietrzycki said the fire, reported shortly before 2 a.m., probably was accidental. The pattern of the fire indicated it could have been started by a defective extension cord near the couch, he said.

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