FRUITVALE – A Van Zandt County Fire Department spokesman credits a teen with saving his 14 year-old sister after he pulled her from a burning mobile home. Sadly, his 41 year-old mother died in the fire.
The flames broke out around 12:35 a.m. Tuesday at a singlewide mobile home along County Road 1129 in Fruitvale. Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said a space heater sparked the fire. A 16-year-old boy and his two siblings, ages 20 and 18, awoke to choking smoke.
After they escaped, the 16 year-old ran around the house, broke out a window to the master bedroom, and rescued his 14 year-old sister. He could not save his mother because of the intense heat and smoke, fire officials said.
The 14 year-old suffered 1st and 2nd degree burns on both of her arms and hands, as well as smoke inhalation, Allen said. She was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit of the burn center, officials reported.
The brother also hurt his hands from breaking out the window, Allen said, but he was treated and released from Parkland hospital.
Based on interviews with the survivors, investigators believe an unattended space heater left too close to clothing likely sparked the fire.
Word of the devastating fire spread quickly. On Tuesday, Fruitvale Independent School District Superintendent Jennifer Jones said teachers and students were planning to gather donations to help the family.
Authorities are withholding the name of the woman killed until her next of kin can be notified.