Authorities ID mother, child killed in Coatesville fire

COATESVILLE, Pa. - September 18, 2012

Police say the victims' family lives mainly in Mexico. They have been notified about what happened overnight. A very good friend of the family supplied Action News with pictures of the victims - 44-year-old Elizabeth Izquierdo and her 5-year-old son Imanol.

The fire broke out just after midnight along the 500 block of E Chestnut Street in Coatesville.

Resident Quest Shell described the terror of the fire, telling Action News, "I just see my life flash, seen it flash by."

Fierce flames forced residents from several Coatesville buildings early this morning, but two people did not get out alive. Firefighters discovered Elizabeth and Imanol Izquierdo in a second floor bedroom on the 500 block of East Chestnut Street. Police say Imanol was a kindergartener at Reeceville Elementary.

Firefighters were dispatched around 12:30 a.m. and heard reports of people trapped. The arriving ladder company found heavy fire had spread to two nearby row houses. Another had minor damage. Some residents evacuated themselves, while others were able to climb to the rooftop to escape the smoke where they awaited the ladders from rescue crews.

Evacuated resident Margaret Bara says, "The 9-1-1 operator kept me on the phone and said 'You're safe, we're coming.'"

Elizabeth and Imanol were soon discovered. While smoke detectors alerted residents in other units, fire officials say there was no evidence of working smoke detectors in the home where the fire began.

Investigators say some residents told them this was a boarding house that went up in flames. If that's true, it would have been required to have not just smoke detectors but fire suppression sprinklers as well.

An investigation into that claim continues.

Coatesville Fire Chief Jim Lentz tells us, "There were challenges, absolutely. We were faced with balloon construction in this type of neighborhood, where fire spreads rapidly. There was heavy fire conditions upon arrival with no evidence of smoke detectors. Obviously, smoke detectors are an early indication of fire. And when fire gets this far advanced, it complicates the fire departments operation to provide rescue and suppression operations."

Firefighters struck three alarms before bringing the blaze under control.

Residents were able to get back inside their homes and gather a few belongings. They watched and waited their turn on the porch of a nearby church rectory. The Red Cross set up a community shelter to assist 31 people - 8 of them children - who had been displaced. A church group also responded saying they will help in any way they can.

Reverend Patsy Ray of the Home Gospel Mission explains, "Grief is what they're having now so I will be working with them, churches, minister alliance working with anybody who needs to be working."

Sara Smith of the American Red Cross says, "We'll be able to care for them for as long as they need us."

The cause of this fire remains under investigation, but authorities say it appears to have been accidental.

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