Fatal house fire saddens extended family

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Families cling to each other as they watch investigators sift through the burned out mobile home on Old Tyler Road. The last to hear an aunt, her niece, and her children, ages four and three alive was next door neighbor Oscar Rios, a Spanish only speaker. His niece, Judith Rios interpreted, "He woke up. He heard people screaming and the windows were popping." Rios broke through the windows shortly before five Wednesday morning. They led to a back bedroom where the victims were found. He conveyed, "It was too late. Smoke was already coming. You couldn't hear anybody screaming and liked the flames were rising up." As high as the trees when firefighters arrived.

The victims have been identified as Marias Galacia, 27; her niece Maria Isabela Robles, age 23, and her two children Leslie Oyuky, age 4 and Genis Clemente, age 3. All were pronounced dead on the scene by Justice of the Peace Pct. 2 Dorothy Tigner-Thompson.

Investigators now look for clues as to what happened. Hermilio Martinez watches. He lost his wife in the fire. Family friend, David Sifuentes said, "He was working when all this happens and whenever he came back this morning his house was gone and mainly his family was gone." The family has lived in Nacogdoches for about six years, attending English lessons every week.

The women were longtime employees at Barnhill's, a local restaurant. Employer Jennifer Barnhill described the women. "They're both a pleasure to work with. Always happy, never saw them get angry about anything. Always had the best attitudes."  Martinez' works at IHOP in Nacogdoches. His employer was also there to comfort the family members. Both restaurants are taking up collections to help pay for the four funerals.

There were no smoke detectors in the mobile home. Fire Chief Keith Kiplinger says their presence might have made a difference in the outcome. Fire investigators advise that smoke detectors should be placed in the sleeping areas and common areas of every home. Gasses from a fire can cause individuals who are sleeping to go into a deeper sleep.