A 3-year-old Pennsauken boy was killed and his grandmother was injured by a fire in their home in the 6000 block of Camden Avenue on Christmas.
Fire Chief Jack Mattera said the child might have been playing with candles near the Christmas tree when the fire started.
Alex Machlin was pronounced dead at Cooper University Hospital. His grandmother Vielka Gonzalez, 56, was taken to Cooper and then transferred to Crozer-Chester Medical Center to be treated for burns and smoke inhalation. She was in critical condition. Ileana Gonzalez, 23, the boy's mother, was treated at Cooper.
Mattera said firefighters were dispatched at 6:22 p.m. and found the front of the home engulfed in flames. They entered from the back and found the boy on the kitchen floor, Mattera said.
The mother's boyfriend and her daughter Siana, 4, were not injured. Salomon Gonzalez, 59, the boy's grandfather and Vielka's husband, was not home when the fire broke out.
Kathy Hall, 49, a neighbor across the street, said yesterday that she had just finished dinner and was cleaning up in her kitchen about 6 p.m. when her husband, Fred, "came yelling the house was on fire."
"The mother, grandmother, they were frantic, they were hysterical," she said. "It was just chaos. . . . I tried to even go down the side [of the house] but it was too hot." She said Christmas lights outside were "popping" in the fire.
Hall said the Gonzalezes had lived in the home for about seven years. Salomon Gonzalez stayed at their home Thursday night, she said.
The windows on the Gonzalez home now are boarded up. A recreational vehicle in the gravel driveway is a burnt shell. The siding melted in the fire, as did that on the detached houses on either side of the Gonzalez home.
Yesterday, cars slowly drove by. One woman got out of her car and placed a toy car on the front steps.