Father charged after children killed in North San Diego County fire

Posted at 12:24 PM, Dec 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 21:08:47-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The father of two children who died in a fire at a Rancho Bernardo home was charged in a San Diego courtroom Thursday.

Henry Lopez’ children Cristos, 10, and Isabella, 7, were in the condominium that caught fire in October at Bernardo Center Dr. and Regalo Ln.

Deputy District Attorney Kyle Sutterley said the children were found suffering from smoke inhalation in separate bedrooms. Lopez was found at the top of the stairs going to the second story.

The children died at the hospital. Lopez was critically injured.

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Sutterley said a San Diego Fire Department investigation showed the fire started in Lopez's bed and was started by discarded smoking materials.

Investigators also found a whiskey bottle near the bed, prosecutors said. Lopez had a blood alcohol concentration of .26 percent when he was taken to the hospital, according to prosecutors.

"Our belief is he drank himself to sleep and fell asleep with a lit cigarette, which lit his bed on fire and ultimately his house on fire which caused the desath of his children," said Sutterley.

RELATED: Friends and family mourn children killed in fire

Lopez has been charged with five felony counts including involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment including death, and reckless fire-starting causing great bodily injury. He is not being charged with intentionally setting the fire.

The prosecutor requested bail to be set at one million dollars. The judge refused and allowed Lopez to be released under supervision. Lopez must wear an alcohol screening bracelet that allows officials to monitor his location.

If convicted on all charges, Lopez faces 14 years in prison. He is scheduled to appear in court January 18 for a readiness hearing.

The children are survived by their mother and two older sisters. A friend set up a Gofundme to help raise money for the mother to pay for basic needs.