Man, wheelchair-bound teen die in apartment fire

August 3, 2010 11:51:12 AM PDT
In southeast Houston, an overnight fire took the lives of two people, including a 17-year-old paraplegic. Firefighters say the victims couldn't escape the fire inside their apartment on MLK near Park Village. Clean up and repair work has begun at the apartment. Neighbors are in complete sadness over the loss of two lives.

There's not much left of David Albarrez's home. His upstairs apartment and all of his belongings burned in the fire. But something more precious was saved.

"I'm lucky my kids made it out alive and I thank god for that," said Albarrez. "Pretty much all of my property and everything is pretty much gone."

Albarrez lived upstairs with his two children and all were able to get out safely. However, the neighbors directly downstairs didn't have that chance.

Officials with the Houston Fire Department said two people died in the blaze. A 17-year-old boy was found dead in his bedroom. A paraplegic, he was unable to get to his wheelchair. An older man was found dead in a second bedroom. Authorities believe he was smoking and inadvertently started the fire around 1:30am this morning.

"They got inside and found one occupant and brought him out," said Asst. Chief Karen Dupont of HFD. "They went back inside and extinguished the fire and found a second occupant at that time. Both occupants are deceased."

A third occupant was able to escape and attempted to rescue the other two persons inside, but was unable to carry them and became overwhelmed by smoke.

The flames startled another neighbor.

"I was actually dreaming," said Larain Williams. "When I looked out, I saw smoke everywhere, and I grabbed my two babies out and got out of the house."

Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire within 25 minutes.

Neighbors are grateful the fire only destroyed two apartments, but are devastated two people who were unable to save themselves died.

"Just terrible. My heart cries out to them, to the family," said Timothy Williams.

Authorities say the victims were related. Their identities have not been released. Autopsies are being conducted on the victims to determine their causes of death.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. At this time it appears to be accidental with no foul play, say authorities. They did not find a smoke alarm in the bottom floor apartment.


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