Recovery begins in Socorro after massive fire

Recovery begins in Socorro after massive fire

18 March 2008

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El Paso, Texas, USA — Victims of a massive wind-driven fire that destroyed several neighborhood homes are trying to get back up on their feet.

Officials say the blaze started in a brushy area near the 10,600 block of Socorro Rd. shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday. Strong wind gusts of up to 50 m.p.h. helped spread the flames to nearby residences, officials said.

Some of the victims said they are still trying to cope with the fact that the homes they have lived in all their lives are gone. Others are wondering how the fire could have been prevented.

Joe Arenas lost his home of 22 years. Monday, years of memories were just piles of torched wood and ashes. Arenas said the fire started in the brushes directly behind his home and quickly spread to his residence. He claims many residents had repeatedly asked the city to clear out the brushes.

“It’s sad that they did not clean it … look at what happened,” he said. “If they would have cleaned it up, the fire wouldn’t have happened.”

Ray Arenas, a relative, picked up a burned photograph from the rubble and put the incident into perspective. “I guess you have to wait for something bad like this to happen before somebody starts coming and doing what they’re supposed to do,” he said.

Officials with the Department of Public Services confirmed the city owns land south of the burned homes but do not own the area where the brush fire started. They have not been able to confirm who owns that land.

Joe Arenas just hopes the city will keep an eye out for similar circumstances that could lead to a much bigger tragedy. He is still trying to cope with his nightmare.

“It just really hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said.

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