Coroner: Toddler died of smoke inhalation in Oildale house fire

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Fire department officials now say they know what caused a house fire that killed a toddler, though they were waiting to release the information.

Also Friday, the coroner's office said 21-month-old Aiden McDonald died of smoke inhalation.

The fire erupted Wednesday evening on the 300 block of Washington Avenue in Oildale. A fire department spokesman told Eyewitness News on Thursday that the fire started in the room where the toddler's body was found.

Fire officials say they got several reports about the fire, and crews found heavy smoke and fire coming from the front and east side of the house. They immediately started to fight the fire and to look for the child reported to be trapped inside.

Three other children - ages 6, 5 and 3 - escaped the fire. An aunt and the mother of the children were home when the fire started, according to family members. Firefighters said they suspect the house didn't have working smoke detectors, but investigators haven't confirmed that.

Neighbors and relatives said they got the three kids outside, but the mother kept going back in to find Aiden. She kept that up until the firefighters arrived.

"By the time they got there and told us all to get back and let them do their job, we had to drag their mother out of there, 'cause she wasn't going to go," said Tanya Dotson, who lives across the street and is a cousin to the family.

"We did everything in our power as a family, neighbors, people we don't even know, trying to run up in this house to save that kid," Dotson said Thursday. "We would have saved him, but we didn't know where he was."