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New details released in house fire that killed La Jolla man, 80, and granddaughter, 9

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Posted at 12:37 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 15:45:49-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The San Diego County Medical Examiner's office released new details about the two victims, an 80-year-old man and his 9-year-old granddaughter, that were killed in a early Monday morning La Jolla house fire.

Angie Keefe, her 11-year-old sister, and their father were spending the night at their grandfather's house Sunday. The girls and their grandfather were sleeping upstairs at the home on 548 Caminito La Paz, near La Jolla Parkway.

The children's father told police he was "downstairs smoking by the fireplace while the decedent was asleep in his upstairs bedroom and his granddaughters were asleep in another upstairs bedroom," the county medical examiner's office said.

The children's father told investigators that he poured kerosene on a t-shirt and burned it in the fireplace then fell asleep.

The father said he was awoken at around 3:40 a.m. Monday when the fire spread to the living room. A neighbor called police five minutes later while the father tried putting out the fire.

With the home engulfed in flames, he ran to the back of the house and yelled for the siblings to jump from the second floor. The older sister jumped into her father's arms but his 9 year-old daughter, who had autism and was non-verbal, remained in her bed.

It took crews hours to put out the blaze which destroyed the home.

"Firemen located the remains of the decedent next to his bed and found his 9 year-old granddaughter in her bed, amongst the debris after the fire had been contained," the county medical examiner's office said. "They were both pronounced dead at the scene."

The children's father suffered unspecified burn-related injuries and was taken to the hospital. The injured man's daughter accompanied him to the hospital, but there is no word on if she sustained any injuries.

The county medical examiner's office said Robert Keefe and his granddaughter suffered "thermal injuries with inhalation of products of combustion." The office lists their manner of death an accident.

The San Diego Police Department is handling the investigation.