Victim of fatal Willits fire a toddler

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A 2-year-old boy was killed in a New Year’s Day fire that engulfed a recreational vehicle serving as a family home in Willits, a Mendocino County sheriff’s spokesman said Saturday.

The initial investigation revealed that a propane space heater may have sparked the blaze, although an official determination has not been made, Capt. Greg Van Patten said.

Deputies were called to the Eastside Road location at 9:37 a.m. Friday and found a total of three structures and two vehicles damaged by fire.

They were told the boy, his 14-month-old brother and their father were sleeping inside the RV when the fire broke out.

The man exited to inform the mother, who had stepped outside, and the two went back to get their children, Van Patten said.

They were able to rescue their youngest son but were driven back by the heat of the flames and could not get the 2-year-old, Van Patten said.

He later was found dead inside, he said.

The 14-month-old suffered burns over 40 percent of his body and was flown to UC Davis Medical Center.

Both parents also suffered burns. The father was treated for significant burns at Frank Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits, and the mother suffered less severe burns.

Their identities were not released.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

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