Mom of 2 escapes fire with family but went back into burning apartment to save cat, husband says

Friday, December 15, 2023
Houston mother dies in fire: Keila Almonte escaped SE Houston apartment blaze but went back to save cat, husband says
"If I would've heard my wife, I would've ran in there." A husband is grappling with how to tell his two children that their mother is gone after she didn't re-emerge from their burning apartment.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A grieving husband is now grappling with how to tell his two children that their mother is gone. She died after running back into their burning apartment Wednesday night to save their cat.

The Houston Fire Department received the call at about 10:18 p.m. to the Southway Manor Apartments on Fairway Drive near Telephone Road. When firefighters arrived, they said they were met with heavy smoke and fire.

The fire came from Andrew Salinas' apartment, who told ABC13 he doesn't know what caused the blaze. He said his family was sleeping when the flames broke out from the back of their home.

Salinas evacuated with his wife, kids, and brother. But his wife, 33-year-old Keila Almonte, decided to run back inside the burning unit to save their cat. During the chaos, he said he anxiously looked for her to come back out, but she never did.

"When I was out here screaming for her, I didn't hear anything. If I would've heard my wife, I would've ran in there. There would have been nothing that could have stopped me from going in to save my wife," Salinas said.

HFD said a total of four units were destroyed. Officials pronounced Almonte dead at the scene, leaving Salinas with a big hole in his heart and the difficult task of breaking the news to his kids less than two weeks before Christmas.

"You have your loved ones. You give them a kiss everyday, and you tell them you love them, because one day they're here. The next day, they're not," Salinas said.

He described Almonte as the backbone of their family, someone who pulled him out of the darkest times and helped him turn his life around. He said they had been together for 15 years, married for two, and share children, who are ages 6 and 10 years old.

"My wife was the one who really believed in me. Everybody else gave up on me. My wife is irreplaceable and now I'm a widower," Salinas said.

The Houston Fire Department said they are still investigating what caused the fire.

Loved ones started a GoFundMe to help Salinas and his family cover the costs of Almonte's funeral.