MISSION, Texas – What started as a peaceful Sunday in a Mission neighborhood ended in tragedy. A fire sweeping through five homes on Alejandra Street, killing 11-year-old Versaidy Hernandez.
“I was super scared, I took my van out in the middle of flames.”
Rosa Salinas lives next to the home where neighbors believe the fire started. She says, in tears, how scared she was trying to help her legally blind husband out of the house. Driving her truck out of her driveway surrounded by flames. Half of Salinas’s home and her husband’s truck were burned in the fire. She is thankful a tank of gas outside her house did not explode.
An investigator with the Hidalgo County Fire Marshal’s office says the fatality could have been avoided.
“During the fire she called her parents, she called 9-1-1. There was time to get out of the house, but she didn’t because she was scared. I’m not blaming her but if you got a child at home please, please explain to them to get out of the house and stay out of the house.”
He adds the house had burglar bars all around with only one exit, making it impossible for the little girl to get out, neighbors broke the home’s windows attempting to help but investigators say that only made it worse.
“When you break a window, especially if it’s a burglar window and you can’t get in. You’re feeding that fire, you’re putting oxygen, you’re introducing oxygen in there it makes it a lot hotter. It increases the size of that fire.”
Families returned to their neighborhood this morning, staring at burnt pieces of wood on the floor, in disbelief with tears in their eyes, seeing what is left of their homes.
Multiple agencies are at the site including the South Padre Island Arson Unit. Investigators say it is still too early to determine whether the fire is an arson but are focusing on two houses where they believe the fire started.