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Investigation ongoing in Friday fire

July 22, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Imperial County firefighters are investigating what ignited a fire that destroyed a house east of El Centro on Friday morning.

Fire officials said Saturday they had not reached a conclusion to their investigation, adding they had not yet ruled out the possibility the blaze may have been electrical in origin, said county fire Capt. Joe Seaman.

However, investigators also are looking at whether to list the fire as an accidental blaze.

Ana Carrillo and her sons, Edgar, 21, Daniel, 17, and Andrew, 15, were in the home at 327 W. Evan Hewes Highway when the fire started.

Seaman said Andrew reported he saw a glow coming from Edgar's room and, when he opened the door, he saw fire on Edgar's mattress.

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He quickly woke up Edgar and the family got out of the house. Edgar suffered first- and second-degree burns to one hand and an arm, but he declined treatment, a Gold Cross Ambulance Service crew reported.

The other family members were uninjured.

The blaze was reported to the county Fire Department shortly before 9:30 a.m.

By the time firefighters arrived, flames had engulfed the home. Hampering their efforts to extinguish the fire was the fact there was no water supply in the area.

A county water tanker had to be called to the scene.

Firefighters from the county, El Centro and Holtville responded to the fire and it took them at least an hour to extinguish the blaze.

As the thick, black smoke caused by the flames was replaced by the white smoke of the doused fire, there was little left of the house and one vehicle parked next to the house.

Family members stood by at a neighbor's home as they watched the fire destroy their home and their possessions.

The American Red Cross arrived at the scene to both provide water and electrolyte drinks for the firefighters.

The Red Cross staff also provided water to the family.

Sylvia Preciado, director of the local Red Cross chapter, said she would work on obtaining temporary housing for the family and supply them with clothing and food.

"We'll provide for their immediate needs," Preciado said.

Family members declined to talk to a reporter at the scene. There was no information available on who owns the home.

County fire Capt. Lon Hettinger said Edgar told authorities he was unsure how the fire started.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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