UPDATE: Waco Police officers arrested 44-year-old Andrea Aleman on accusations she abandoned two young children, ages two and four, in a burning house on November 2nd.
Fire units were called to 1218 Webster Avenue at 1:31 a.m. Aleman was able to get out of the house along with her eleven-year-old daughter.
“Why would a parent or caretaker abandon their children in a fire? So I feel that this was a tragedy, and I hope it’s a lesson for anyone in the future to love their children, take care of the children and put them first before themselves. So I think all of Waco is shocked and concerned and [I] hope this will never happen again in our community,” says neighbor Ramond Lopez.
The written fire report says firefighters were told while they were on the way that there may be two small children inside and made a fast attack with a hose through the front door.
The resident told firefighters that the two children were “in the middle of the house”.
The victims have been identified as Anthony Cole Puente and his sister, Rachel Rose Aleman. They were found in a back bedroom bathroom – one in the bathroom and one in a bathroom closet.
The children were taken by ambulance to Scott & White Hillcrest Hospital, where they later died.
A second alarm was called and the fire was knocked down quickly.
Waco Police were called to provide traffic control as streets were blocked with fire equipment.
Fire units were on the scene for several hours.
There is no information on the cause of the fire.
FOX44 spoke with Deputy Chief Bobby Bergerson with the Waco Fire Department, who says it took a while to find the children trapped inside the house.
“Given the zero visibility conditions, heavy smoke and the heat of course they [firefighters] were trying to fight fire, as well. So they were up against some pretty bad odds,” Bergerson says.
Bergerson says the house had two non-working smoke alarms, and is reminding the community to frequently check those alarms.
“Also, at night it is important to sleep with your doors closed because it reduces the possibility of smoke spread into bedrooms,” Bergerson says.
Bergerson says this tragedy hit the department hard, as well, “The firefighters that were trying to rescue them, they feel like they’ve been hit pretty hard, too. Many of them have children of similar ages.”
FOX44 also spoke with a resident, Ericka Anderson, who is heartbroken.
“I have three kids and I cannot imagine my kids dying in a house fire, so my prayers are with the family,” Anderson says.
Anderson hopes the family can take solace in knowing the children are now with God.
“He’s gonna take care of them. He’s gonna get them through it, and he will help them to make it,” Anderson says.
Firefighters say American Red Cross is taking care of the family.
The Waco Independent School District says they have provided clothes and school supplies for the eleven-year-old student and are working with the Faith Alliance to come up with a plan to provide additional resources for the family.
Here is a statement from Waco ISD:
“This is a devastating tragedy, and our hearts break knowing that one of our families lost two young children last night. We hope that the support that we can offer will provide some small measure of comfort at this terribly difficult time.”