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EPFD: Child playing with matches caused apartment fire

By Denise Olivas
Published On: Jan 29 2014 12:33:41 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 19 2014 11:21:26 AM CST
EL PASO, Texas -

The El Paso Fire Department confirmed the cause of an apartment fire Tuesday night in El Paso's lower valley at the San Jose Trail Apartments.

EPFD officials said a child playing with matches in a bedroom caused the fire on the second floor of the building.

Firefighters were called out to the 7900 block of San Jose just after 9 p.m. The battalion chief said firefighters saw heavy smoke and flames shooting out of the building upon arrival.

Approximately 14 fire units and 35 firefighters responded to the fire.

Residents from four apartment units evacuated by the time the fire department arrived. The fire was put out within 25 minutes.

Two men who lived in the apartment building told ABC-7 they were inside when neighbors knocked on their doors to tell them about the fire.

Jose Ibarrra said he didn't think twice about helping his neighbors who were trying to escape the fire. Ibarra and another resident rushed to the burning building.

"We thought it was going to cave in," said Ibarra.

"The fire was already spreading to the other side so we told them 'just jump out of the window' and we told them 'we got you, we got you'. It was a lot of us so we caught the first man, then the little boy and then the lady," said a resident.

It is unclear if the residents who jumped out of the burning building were inside the apartment unit where the fire started.

The Red Cross is helping 13 displaced residents.

Two minor injuries were reported, a woman whose hair caught fire and a man who suffered injuries to his hand from broken glass while he tried to get out of the burning building.

The apartment where the fire started is completely damaged and the three surrounding units sustained smoke and water damage.

The total estimated cost of damage is $60,000.

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