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Woman who died in Pacoima fire identified, remembered for kindness

Ninety-one-year-old Dorie F. Pozas had visits from family members on Christmas Eve at the senior apartment where she lived in Pacoima.

But she was alone at 9 a.m. Christmas morning when a candle she had lit caught her nightgown on fire. By the time firefighters broke down the door of her third-floor apartment, she was badly burned. She died a short time later, authorities said.

Pozas was a kind woman with roots in the Philippines who liked to hand out roasted peanuts, recalled Donald Sanders, maintenance man at Pledgerville Villa Apartments on the 11000 block of Norris Avenue. “She had a bright smile and liked to dance at the parties we had,” he said.

A visitor called 911 after seeing smoke coming from under Pozas’ door Sunday morning. After putting out a small fire, firefighters found Pozas badly burned, her clothes still smoldering.

They concluded she had brushed up against a lighted candle. Filipino families traditionally use a candle to light a rice-paper parol, or star-shaped lantern, to celebrate Christmas; the light represents the Star of Bethlehem.

“It’s a sad and tragic story, those ones you hate to have to report on Christmas,” said L.A. Fire Department spokesman Matt Spence. “We do that in hopes that others learn from it. You can’t overemphasize the importance of safety in dealing with open flames like that. It obviously doesn’t take much.”


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-- Jason Felch


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