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Girl Dies in House Fire Started by Candles Used For Light

May 14, 1988

LENNOX, Calif. (AP) _ A house fire started by burning candles killed a 9-year-old girl and injured her brother hours after the power company cut off electricity for non- payment of a $34.86 bill, officials said.

Tammy Tiggs was pronounced dead at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood early Friday after she was pulled from her burning home, sheriff’s Lt. Ray Gonzales said.

Her brother, Antwon Tiggs, 12, was in critical condition at Robert F. Kennedy Medical Center in Hawthorne, a nursing supervisor said. Their sister, Vernicia Bolts, 17, who was caring for the younger children while their parents attended a church meeting, was treated and released.

Several deputies, firefighters and paramedics were overcome by smoke or cut by glass, but all were treated and released at area hospitals.

The fire was reported at 11:41 p.m. Thursday. Miss Bolts had blown out most of the candles being used to light the house before everyone went to bed, but apparently at least one kept burning and ignited the blaze, county fire Inspector Ken Sotro said.

Earlier Thursday, the Southern California Edison Co. disconnected service to the house because the family’s $34.86 bill was overdue, said Darcy Skaggs, an area manager for the utility.

″There had been a credit problem over a long period of time,″ Skaggs said. ″They had been given proper notice. We hand delivered a final notice on May 3. There was no response. The final notice expired on May 11. On May 12, service was disconnected.″

The deadline for payment had been extended several times for the family and the account had been overdue for at least a year, Skaggs said.

Firefighters estimated damage caused by the fire at $205,000.