Reseda High student, 16, is killed in house fire BLAZE: Authorities say home was not equipped with smoke alarms.
A special education student at Reseda High School and his three beloved dogs were killed early Friday when a fire swept through his family's rented home, which was not equipped with smoke alarms, authorities said.
Edward Miller III, a 16-year-old sophomore, was trapped inside his bedroom by the flames that started in the living room and quickly engulfed the small brown home in the 18400 block of West Saticoy Street. Authorities believe the fire was started by discarded smoking material or an electrical short.
The teen lived with his mother, Deborah Miller, who was out collecting bottles and cans for recycling when the fire was reported at 2:35 a.m., officials said. She returned to find firetrucks parked in front of the charred remains of her home and the devastating news about her son.
"Everybody knew Eddie. He was one of those students," said Reseda High Principal Alfredo Tarin, who recalled that Miller frequently spoke about his dogs.
"He had friends. He was always smiling. It's a real unfortunate tragedy."
The school provided grief counselors for students in the special education class, where Miller was enrolled for a learning disability. Tarin also said that school officials are planning a fundraiser to help pay for the teen's funeral expenses.
Damage from the blaze is estimated at $125,000 for the single-family home and $20,000 for its contents, said Battalion Chief John Duca of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Investigators believe that Miller awoke in his room as the flames spread but quickly became disoriented from the smoke.
"He got trapped in the bedroom," said Detective Joel Price of the Los Angeles Police Department's West Valley Division. "At that point, you don't know which end is up."
City Fire Inspector Russell Rawls said the home lacked smoke alarms, a violation of state law. Officials had not determined Friday whether the owner of the home would be prosecuted.
The teen was starting his second year at Reseda High School, according to Tarin. He had enrolled Tuesday, four days after the school year began, because of an accident that forced him to temporarily walk on crutches, he said.
Jason Kang, 22, who lives in an apartment building next to the Millers' home, was awakened in the middle of the night by a pounding on the door. He and other neighbors gathered in the alley and watched firefighters tackle the burning house, which sat in the rear of a two-home lot next to a car dealership.
"We saw flames that were so high," Kang said. "They were shouting, 'Do you see somebody?"'
Vijay Singh, 52, of Tarzana, walked over from a nearby carwash to watch as firefighters hauled clothes, furniture and books from the charred home. He put his hand over his heart when he learned of the tragedy.
"This is not the type of thing you'd want to happen to anyone, whether you know them or not," Singh said. "He's 16 years old - he's a baby. He's at the prime of his life. This is so sad."
(color) Edward Miller III, 16, lived with his mother.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 19, 2009|
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