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Electricity Cut Off Just Hours Before Fire Started

May 14, 1988

LENNOX, Calif. (AP) _ Candles used for light set a house afire just hours after the electricity was cut off for non-payment of a $34.86 bill, killing a 9-year-old and critically injuring her brother, officials said Friday.

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

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, deputies said.

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

Miss Bolts had blown out most of the candles in the house before everyone went to bed Thursday night but apparently one kept burning and ignited the blaze, said county fire Inspector Ken Sotro.

Hours earlier, Southern California Edison Co. disconnected service because the family’s bill had not been paid, said Darcy Skaggs, an area manager for the utility.

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

He said the utility had followed the guidelines for collections established by the state Public Utilities Commission.

″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,″ Skaggs said.

The house is in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles.