OILDALE, CA - Investigators said a house fire in Oildale Wednesday evening started in a back bedroom, where a toddler was found dead. Firefighters believe the fire was an accident, but the cause is under investigation.
Firefighters said they saw no smoke alarms in the home on Washington Avenue. They are still waiting for the toddler's autopsy results to help with their investigation.
"It was so dark in there when the family tried to find the kids. We barely found three and we tossed them over the fence and tried to get the other one, but we just could not find him," said Tanya Dotson, Aidan McDonald's cousin.
"All I know is I counted three kids and I was like, there's a kid missing. By the time we tried to find that kid it was up in flames and we already knew. We just were hoping he'd come out alive," she continued.
Neighbors crowded around the home Wednesday night as family and friends ran in to try and find 21-month-old Aidan McDonald. But, they were overcome by smoke and fast-moving flames.
"We couldn't find Aidan. We couldn't find him. We tried our best. We could have jumped through the fire if we just knew where he was. We would have done it," explained Dotson.
Aidan was the youngest of four boys. Firefighters said his brothers were rescued by their mother before firefighters showed up.
"These people have lost completely all of their possessions, children's clothing. Please remember there are still three little children that are left with this situation," explained Freida Doran, Aidan McDonald's great-aunt.
Firefighters say the mother of the boys was not home at the time of the fire and that someone else was taking care of the children.
Aidan's family said he was a quiet toddler who loved playing with his toy cars and trucks. His death comes just two days after the death of his great-grandmother.
A car wash at Sonic Drive-In on Olive Drive was held Thursday afternoon to raise money for her funeral, but their focus turned to burying Aidan. They also said they wanted to address online criticism that the family didn't do enough to save the young boy.
"People have comments saying, 'you would have found me laying next to my child dead.' You don't understand. You don't understand the situation. Flames were everywhere. It felt like a burning hell from what I was told," noted Doran.
"It was a burning hell," Dotson explained.
On Wednesday night, firefighters said the fire was so hot, household items spontaneously caught fire in what's called a 'flashover.'
"The front room reached its ignition temperature and all the contents inside burst into flames," said Corey Wilford, Kern County Fire Department.
Firefighters said flashovers in homes are uncommon. Crews said it can reach 1,400 degrees inside the home, so your chance of surviving a flashover is low.
A second car wash will be held at Long Branch Saloon from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 907 N. Chester Avenue.