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Awakened by smoke, parents, five children flee unharmed
A Cotulla family of seven is being temporarily housed with friends and relatives this week after fire destroyed a home on Martinez Street before dawn on Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25.
Charity efforts are now underway at the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office with donations of clothing and funds to help the Tellez family, whose five children are aged six, seven, seven, ten and 13. Donors and those offering assistance may call (830) 879-3044 for information on the family’s immediate needs.
Reports from the sheriff’s office and the La Salle Fire Rescue indicate that an emergency call was made at 5:24 a.m. Saturday when flames had begun tearing through the family’s mobile home. Firefighters from Cotulla and Encinal were dispatched with two engines to fight the blaze, but the home was a total loss.
The sheriff’s office stated that preliminary reports made to officers at the scene indicated one of the children may have been the first to detect smoke in the home and raised the alarm, waking the other family members.
The fire service confirmed in a brief statement Monday that firefighters arrived at the scene to find that the blaze had spread rapidly through the home and had begun venting itself through the roof, whereupon it gained strength and rapidly overtook the structure.
Fire Rescue Capt. Sean Wallace said Monday that the mobile home was two-thirds engulfed in flames within minutes and that the house could not be saved.
No injuries have been reported from the fire, although the county emergency medical service was on scene and examined members of the family who had escaped from the burning home.
La Salle Fire Rescue Capt. Jake Galindo was the supervising officer at the scene and reported that firefighters worked over four and a half hours in extinguishing the blaze.
Investigations are underway into the possible cause of the fire that cost the Tellez family all of its possessions on Christmas Day. La Salle Country Fire Marshal William Butterfield has begun an examination of the wreckage to determine whether an electrical flaw was to blame and whether foul play may be ruled out as the culprit.
“They lost everything,” La Salle Sheriff’s Captain Juan Mirelez said of the fire. “We have begun receiving donations of clothing, and that’s a promising start. But it will take a lot to help this family get back on their feet. This kind of loss is devastating. We are hoping the community will come forward in the spirit of neighborliness to help these parents and children in their hour of need.”