Fire turns tragic

BY CELESTE GRACIA

STAFF WRITER

An 11-year-old girl died Sunday afternoon in a structure fire in Palmview. At least one other was sent to the hospital for injuries.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra confirmed the girl’s death Sunday evening. Guerra said first responders found her body inside the burned house.

“The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s office will conduct an investigation to determine the exact cause of the fire,” Guerra said.

Guerra said at approximately 3:09 p.m., multiple 911 calls were received regarding the fire. Alton Fire Department arrived approximately nine minutes later. Guerra said Alton firefighters described the scene with one structure already fully engulfed.

Family members told the first responders the 11-year-old girl was still inside.

“Attempts were made to enter the house, but (they) were not able to because of the extreme heat,” Guerra said.

Guerra said the young girl, whose name was not disclosed, lived with her parents and grandparents inside the structure that caught fire, which was surrounded by burglar bars. Guerra explained the property contained two separate buildings — a main house and another structure with two apartments.

The young girl was at home with her grandparents when the fire occurred, but both were in different areas. She was inside one of the apartments. Guerra said the girl’s grandfather suffered mild injuries because he tried to break into the house to get his granddaughter out.

An elderly lady was also wheeled away from the scene on a stretcher, but Guerra could not confirm if she was headed to the hospital.

Witnesses claimed there was a delay in first addressing the fire because of a lack of water. There are no fire hydrants on the street where the incident happened.

Multiple fire departments from surrounding cities responded to the call. In total, five structures were affected in this fire. The fire occurred in a neighborhood on Alejandra Street in Palmview, north of the intersection of 3 Mile Line and La Homa Road.

Alton Police Chief Jonathan Flores explained the area is technically Palmview, although the area is also under county jurisdiction, meaning the county handles police response, but Alton answers to fires in the area, as the Alton Fire Department was the first responder in this incident.

Meagan Bazan from Mission said her uncle’s house was completely burned down. She said his house was the second building to catch fire. Her uncle, cousin and cousin’s child were all inside the house when the fire started, but everyone in her family was able to evacuate safely.

Most surrounding neighbors were asked to evacuate their homes. As of around 7 p.m. Sunday evening, Guerra said the fire was still not totally extinguished.

“This scene will be active all night and into (Monday) morning hours,” Guerra said.