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Hundreds say Goodbye to Family who Died in Sylmar Fire PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 30 January 2014 01:53

Friends and family will not forget the Estrada family anytime soon. Uriel, Maria, their daughter Isabel, and son Alejandro will live forever in the hearts of those who knew them as good, generous and happy. Hundreds of people packed Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church in San Fernando last Saturday, Jan. 25, for the funeral mass in remembrance of the four Estrada family members who died on Jan. 13 in a tragic fire at their Sylmar home.

Numerous floral arrangements were placed at the entrance to the church along with large photos of Uriel and Maria on one side of the door, and Alejandro and Isabel on the other. One by one, two brown and two white coffins entered the church just past 9 a.m.,flanked by family members, while classmates (some of them wearing the school uniform), friends and relatives filled the benches inside the church. Dozens of people stood along the side walls during the service. Relatives wore buttons on their lapels with the photos of the four members of the family. The family perished after an early morning fire destroyed the two-story barn that had been converted into a residence where they had been living since before Christmas. Uriel, 41; Maria, 40; Isabel, 12, and Alejandro, 8, died later that day from smoke inhalation.

Firefighters found Uriel a few feet from the front door; Maria and children were found huddled together near Uriel. While the Los Angeles Fire Department continues investigating the incident, LAFD Battalion Chief Steve Ruda told the San Fernando Valley Sun/ El Sol last week that there was no “active working smoke detector” in the residence. However, property owner Leonarda G. Aguilar says there were detectors.

Aguilar’s attorney Brian Weinberger told the San Fernando Valley Sun/ El Sol that he had been advised through his client, as well as the person in charge of maintaining the property, whom he did not identify, that “there were indeed two brand new smoke alarms provided for that area of living quarters” where the Estradas resided. Perhaps in allusion to this, Father Stan Zowada, who led the mass, said that “tragedies and accidents happen for a reason. Sometimes it’s because of our own decisions, sometimes due to the decisions of others, but for some reason we end up in these situations.” The priest also said they were a family who faced difficulties and made sacrifices to give the best to their children.

One of Uriel’s brothers thanked the public for their support and said he still wondered why this happened. “I asked why he (God) took them all,” said the distraught man who described his brother as “a strong man who loved his kids and wife.” One of Maria’s brothers echoed those sentiments. “My sister had the same gift my mother had, the gift of hospitality,” he said, adding that the Estradas were known for holding these “parties that would never end.”

He said that Maria — who was the second child in the family and was known affectionately to them as “Yaya” — and Uriel “were meant for each other.” He also said that Isabel played basketball and softball and loved to go with her father to an all-you-can-eat sushi bar. “She had a good appetite,” the uncle said. Alex,described as a shy boy who often kept to himself, “was coming out of his shell in the last year” and was a good hitter on the baseball field. “He was a very humble young man,” said the uncle, who finished his eulogy playing a country song from his cellphone that speaks about the loss of a loved one.

After the mass, the coffins were taken to four hearses waiting outside the church. Uriel’s coffin was covered with a U.S. flag denoting his service in the U.S. Marines. The family was buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 January 2014 16:47