TV blamed for sparking fire that killed toddler in SW Houston

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Monday, September 18, 2017
Toddler killed in 3-alarm fire in SW Houston
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Eyewitnesses said they heard an explosion right before a deadly apartment fire in southwest Houston.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- This is heartbreaking.

Firefighters said a toddler was killed after a three-alarm fire erupted at an apartment complex in southwest Houston.

The victim was identified by family members as Ayleen Gomez. She was only two and a half years old.

Her mother says she believes the fire started with a TV in her daughter's bedroom.

Just before 2 p.m., eyewitnesses said they heard an explosion. Next thing they knew, two buildings were on fire at The Landing on Corporate Drive at Westwood Place Drive.

Ayleen Gomez
Family members say Ayleen Gomez became trapped in a burning apartment complex and wasn't able to be rescued.

Little Ayleen's mother cried for help for someone to rescue her after she barely made it out with her 5-year-old son.

As the flames consumed these apartments, those living her began to panic.

"She's like, 'Help, help, my house is on fire, my kid's in there," eyewitness Charles Owens said.

Owens came outside when a neighbor he did not know frantically insisted he go inside the burning apartment to save her child.

"I run inside with my shirt over my mouth," Owens said. "As I get to the back door, the flames are just busting out the back door so I wasn't really able to do too much."

Owens came back out, helping another woman and her children who tripped on their way down the stairs trying to escape.

Still, he didn't want to give up on the toddler stuck inside the burning building.

"I tried to go back in again, and there wasn't...I couldn't get back in again," he said.

About 100 firefighters were called to put this fire out. The intensity of the flames and the scope of this fire sent firefighters pulling for a second and then a third alarm.

About 20 units were destroyed across two buildings. Angela Smith is among those who lost almost everything.

"Yeah, I kept hearing people screaming," Smith said. "My son kept hearing people breaking doors down."

Another eyewitness said she heard explosions before the chaos erupted.

"I heard 'boom'! And that's when the windows shattered everywhere, and then another boom, and I ran across the street because I didn't know what was going on," eyewitness Delia Medina said. "The wind was blowing so the flame was just crossing over, roof to roof."

Arson investigators are at the scene, trying to piece together what happened.

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