High winds fan flames

High winds fanflames

15 March 2008

published by www.elpasotimes.com

El Paso, Texas, USA — Strong winds Friday fanned two large fires in theLower Valley, keeping firefighters busy and leaving at least 12 people needingshelter.

The first fire, reported just before 1 p.m. near the Border Highway, wassparked in a brush area and quickly spread to both sides of the border.

About two hours later, a second fire broke out ina mobile home on MacadamiaCircle, also in the Lower Valley.

As the fire quickly engulfed a trailer, two women rescued their 86-year-oldneighbor.

Ofelia Gonzalez and Adela Patterson were being described as heroes in theneighborhood made up of mobile homes in the 1000 block Macadamia Circle. Noinjuries were reported.

“I really don’t feel like a hero. I feel like a concerned neighbor. Welook out for each other here,” Patterson said.

The fire consumed the home of Ines Aguilar Dorado and her son and damaged thesides of two other mobile homes, leaving up to 12 people needing shelter,clothing or other help, said Freddy Martinez of the American Red Cross.

El Paso Fire Battalion Chief Russell “Rusty” Hall said the drygrass, dead leaves or other yard materials spontaneously combusted, and the windspread the flames. Hall urged residents to remove possibly flammable yard waste.

Strong winds also were blamed for a separate large brush fire battled by ElPaso and Juárez firefighters for hours along both sides of the Rio Grande inthe Ascarate Park area. Ten firefighting vehicles, including twofour-wheel-drive trucks, were used in the battle on the El Paso side. No one wasinjured.

On Macadamia Circle, smoke alerted Gonzalez and Patterson. They called forhelp and knocked on the door of Aguilar Dorado, who was alone watchingtelevision. No one was in the two homes that were damaged.

Because of her age, Aguilar Dorado walked slowly as the fire spread quickly.

The three women, once out of the home, tried to exit the yard, but a gate waslocked. They could feel the heat. Smoke was starting to get in their eyes.

“The lady was getting frightened. She was saying, ‘Don’t leave me here,'” Patterson recalled.

Gonzalez and Patterson lifted the waist-high chain-link fence and pulledAguilar Dorado out. “By the time we got her out, half the mobile home hadburned already,” Patterson said.

The twisted metal of the mobile home’s roof was the only thing left in thecompletely scorched lot hours after the experience, which left Gonzalez shaken.

Gonzalez denied being a hero.

“I didn’t have time to think,” she said. “I was just trying tohelp.”

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