A 2-year-old boy left at home with his older brothers died early yesterday morning of smoke inhalation despite efforts of a passerby to save him.

According to D.C. police, the three children were left without an adult at 629 Ellicott St. NE. Police said the two older boys, aged 9 and 10, lit a candle when the electricity in the house failed. The boys then fell asleep, the candle burned down and ignited their bedding. The boys were awakened by the heat and smoke, police said.

A passerby, Ralph Rust, 26, of 1238 G St. NE. said he smelled smoke, investigated and saw smoke coming out of the second floor shortly before 1 a.m. Rust said he kicked the door open and found the two older boys just inside the door. After taking them outside, he asked them if anyone else was inside and they told him that their younger brother was on the second floor, Rust said.

Rust said he tried to go up the stairs, but the "heat and the fire turned me around." Rust said he tried a second time, without success, before the fire department arrived. The child was found in the front bedroom on the second floor and was taken to D.C. General Hospital where he died at 2:14 a.m.

Police said the boy's mother and an aunt were out for the evening "at a social function in Maryland" and that no other adult was present in the house.

In a separate incident, four persons were injured in a fire at 524 Third St. NW. Fire department officials said Lorraine Muth, 64, was taken to Washington Hospital Center with third degree burns after being rescued from a fire of undetermined origin, which was reported at 2:23 a.m. Two other persons, Ben and Lorraine Proctor Jones, were taken to Washington Hospital Center where they were treated for smoke inhalation. Nicole Proctor, 2, was taken to Children's Hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.