Last Update: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Family of Four Dies in Sylmar Converted Barn Fire PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia and Diana Martinez   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 11:00

       A. Garcia /SFVS

Santa Rosa Catholic School in San Fernando held a special prayer service this morning (Tues. Jan 14), for the Estrada family who died in an early morning fire in their Sylmar home.

The family had moved into the rental home just six weeks ago, which was m a converted metal clad barn Uriel Estrada, 41, his wife Maria, 35 and their two young sons, Isabel, 12 and Alex, 8, all died in the tragedy.

All the students at the closeknit Catholic school attended the prayer service.

Teachers informed their students of the tragedy on Monday and the school sent out letters to parents.

"Both Alejandro and Isabel attended Santa Rosa school," said spokeswoman Monica Valencia. "The children's parents were very involved and volunteered at the school where not only their children attended, even Maria had also attended".

Valencia said the family has been part of the school community for many years. The letter sent to Santa Rosa school parents Monday offered grief counseling to students.

“It is with deep regret and sympathy that we inform you of the tragic deaths that occurred last night in the Estrada family.

Both children, Isabel in seventh grade and Alejandro in second grade, and both parents, Uriel and Maria, lost their lives due to a fire in their home,” wrote Fr. Stan Zowada and school Director Rose Kennedy.“Such a tragedy impacts our school family.

We are concerned for the loss your children have experienced. The school had a crisis team from the city of Los Angeles, along with counselors from Alemany High School, on site today to help the teachers with communicating to the students the tragedy that took place. When senseless tragedy occurs, we turn to our Catholic faith to help support us.

Please keep the Estrada family, and the entire Santa Rosa/Bishop Alemany School Community, in your prayers,” added the letter The entire family of four perished early Monday morning when the barn converted to living quarters caught fire in Sylmar, in what firefighters said was a tragic accident possibly linked to an electrical fault.

The Estrada family was saving to buy their own home. About a month ago they moved to a barn converted to living structure at the back of a twoacre property located at 13781 Eldridge Avenue in Sylmar.

Family members who came by the location after learning of the tragedy were in shock and tears. They described them as hard working, close-knit and happy family.

The Estradas lived on the first floor of the barn.

The upstairs was used as storage. On Monday January 13, around 4:30 a.m., a possible electrical fault sparked a fire in the barn (firefighters don’t know whether it was upstairs or downstairs) and spread through the structure, killing all four members of the family.

When firefighters came to the location, fire engulfed the structure.

It took them about 25 minutes to put out the flames, but strong winds were a challenge, said Los Angeles Fire Department Captain Jaime Moore. He added that they found the father a few feet from the door.

His two kids and his wife were kneeling close by.

The family was taken in critical condition to local hospitals where they died hours later.

"They were found huddled together in an area where they were looking for some kind of shelter or escape,'' Moore said.

"Unfortunately, the area they were found in, there was no means of escape.'' Two of the victims were taken to Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar. The other two were rushed to Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.

The father and his two children died Monday morning.

The mother passed away in the afternoon. Moore said the barn had permits to be used as living quarters, but what it lacked was fire alarms, a violation that could lead to major legal troubles for the landlord.

Moore said the deadly blaze should serve as a warning to families to be prepared for emergencies.

"If this family had had an escape plan, the chances of survival with the combination of smoke alarms would have been so much greater,'' he said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 January 2014 12:32

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