A fire in a garage killed two sisters, aged 6 and 10, and critically injured another early Friday, fire officials said.
The fire broke out in the converted garage where the sisters slept in Long Beach, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Los Angeles, Long Beach Fire Capt. Mike Duree said.
The girls' 17-year-old sister, who was also sleeping in the detached garage, awoke to the smell of smoke and ran to a nearby building to call 911 about 2 a.m., said Duree.
The girl then tried to return to the burning building to rescue her sisters, Duree said, but the heat and smoke forced her back.
The 500-square-foot garage, which had been legally converted to living space, did not have smoke detectors or a sprinkler system, Duree said. Although divided into two rooms, only the front area had a window and a door. The fire started in that area, officials believe, blocking the only exit.
"They would have had to go directly through the fire to flee," Duree said.
When firefighters arrived at the scene and reached the young sisters, all were unconscious. The injured sister is being treated at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.
Officials believed the fire started near an outlet in the living room but were still investigating the cause, Duree said.