Fire Leaves 18 Homeless in Montana Vista
POSTED: Saturday, May 21, 2011 - 5:42pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - 2:57pm
MONTANA VISTA - Update: The Red Cross says they are helping the 3 families with a place to stay. We're told they put them up in an east El Paso Hotel.
We have the latest on a devastating fire. Tonight, 18 people are looking for a place to live, after flames destroyed their two trailers.
The Red Cross says it will be helping the people victimized by the fire, as flames burning high and hot left nothing but burnt rubble behind.
"It's very dry right now and the fire spread rather quickly," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Jesse Tovar.
Two trailer homes, engulfed by fire in just minutes this afternoon. High winds fanned flames that reached tens of feet high.
"I was going to go to work and I saw there was a lot of smoke on the trailer behind us. Before you knew it, it was on fire and I couldn't do anything," said Jesus Garcia, who lost his trailer in the fire.
18 people lived in the two mobile homes, most related to one another. Garcia said the fire spread so fast, he could only make sure everyone was safe.
"When I looked I saw smoke coming from the bathroom. All I had the chance to do was get the two kids that were inside out," Garcia told us.
Many neighbors were outraged, after they say it took firefighters over an hour to show up.
"They always take forever to get where they need to go. By the time they do, they're not ready. It's just bad," said one neighbor.
The firefighters work as volunteers for the Montana Vista Department. We've asked them about their slower response time before and were told it's inevitable.
Few volunteers staff the station, and those that do have full-time jobs doing something else.
"They're dropping their main life duties to respond to other people's emergencies. People, they don't know it takes a special kind of person to do this volunteer work out here," said James Younger of the Montana Vista Fire Department.
It takes state funding to turn a volunteer department full-time, something Montana Vista residents say they deserve.
We put in calls to the Montana Vista Fire Department to ask specifically about today's response time, but no one has returned our calls.