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Charcoal Grill Fire Kills Four Kids

February 21, 2002

PICO RIVERA, Calif. (AP) _ Odorless carbon monoxide fumes from a charcoal grill killed four siblings and critically injured two sisters as they slept in what investigators believe was a murder-suicide attempt by their father.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Rick Varela said he believed that Adair Garcia, 30, lit the grill and placed it in the house Wednesday to kill his children and try to kill himself. He was in stable condition at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Authorities initially believed the grill may have been used to warm the house, about 10 miles southeast of Los Angeles. But an examination of the scene showed working heaters, leading investigators to suspect Garcia.

``We’re investigating this as a homicide,″ sheriff’s Lt. Don Bear said.

The four Garcia children who died were Brenda, 10, Jonathan, 6, Cecelia, 4, and Anthony, 2, the coroner’s office said.

The surviving sisters were taken to UCLA Medical Center. The 6-year-old was in critical condition and the 9-year-old was not expected to live, sheriff’s Deputy David Cervantes said.

Garcia was not immediately arrested because his medical condition did not allow investigators to question him or remove him, Varela said.

Paramedics were called to the neatly kept two-bedroom home in a middle-class neighborhood early Wednesday, when the children’s grandmother, who had come over to baby-sit, saw smoke coming out of the house.

The children’s distraught mother had to be restrained by deputies when she arrived at the scene. The unidentified woman had been living at another location for about a week because of a recent marital discord, authorities said.

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