Los Angeles arson investigators at the scene of a residential fire in South Los Angeles where four children, ages 2 to 7, were hospitalized in critical condition. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A mother was arrested Monday on suspicion of child endangerment after leaving her three sons and daughter alone inside a South L.A. home before a fire erupted earlier this year, police said.
Detectives allege that Chiquita Jordan, 27, caused great bodily harm to her four children, according to Det. Moses Castillo of the Los Angeles Police Department. She is was jailed on $100,000 bail.
The two oldest children remain hospitalized at a burn center, where they are recovering from burns to 40% of their bodies, he said.
“It’s terrible to see kids suffer like this,” he said.
The investigation into Jordan started after the Jan. 16 blaze, which swept through a Vermont Knolls home in the 800 block of West Manchester Avenue.
Jordan’s children — ages 2 to 8 — were inside the 432-square-foot bungalow and alone. Neighbors saw smoke and flames at the home and called firefighters.
Emergency responders worked quickly to rescue the trapped children.
A sheriff’s deputy managed to break a window without any security bars. A firefighter climbed in and pulled out the four children from the back bedroom.
Moments later, the bedroom was consumed by flames.
Authorities later discovered the fire was started by a burning candle. The small bungalow did not have electricity, so the family used candles to light their rooms, Castillo said.
Jordan was “close by” and left the children unsupervised with the lighted candles when the fire erupted in the home, he said.
According to Castillo, the children’s mother has been cooperating with investigators and has been by their side.
Detectives are asking for the public’s help with piecing together a timeline of the family’s travels to determine if the children were abused before the fire, he said. Jordan often traveled to Las Vegas, he said.
At one point during the investigation, authorities believed the children would not survive their injuries, the detective said.
“It’s going to be a lifelong journey and recovery for them,” he said.
Anyone with details about the case is urged to call Castillo at (213) 486-0586 or Officer Kristine Caldwell at (213) 486-0884.