One person was killed, and five more were injured in a house fire caused by an explosion at a Garland home on Sunday.
Garland PD officers responded to reports of “some type of explosion” around 11 a.m. on August 14 at a residence in the 600 block of East Ridgewood Drive, near Dairy and East Miller Roads.
Firefighters said the home partially exploded and was on fire when they arrived.
At the time of the explosion, six occupants — all family members between 2 and 54 — were inside the home. All five surviving family members suffered serious injuries.
Gloria Godinez confirmed that her mother, 54-year-old Paula Reyes, died from her injuries on Sunday night.
“Everybody loved her,” Godinez said. “She loved kids.”
Godinez revealed that her 15-year-old brother was taken to Medical City Plano, where he remained in critical condition; her two adult sisters were stable in the burn unit at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. She added that her two nephews, ages 2 and 5, were also in critical condition, having suffered severe burns from the fire.
Jose “Ramiro” Rodriguez, a neighbor who witnessed the explosion while doing yard work, told NBC 5 News that it sounded like a “bomb.”
Rodriguez described witnessing a boy of about 15 years run out of the home calling for help.
“I ran there to the room, and I found the two little kids on fire, their shirts and everything,” Rodriguez said. “I took off the shirts; I burned my fingers. There was another lady on the other side, and there was fire on her clothes and everything.”
Ramiro’s nephew, similarly named Jose Rodriguez, and his wife Dalilah Carrillo, are also neighbors of the victims and witnessed the incident. Jose said he saw a “young man” on fire run out of the house and call for help.
The young man “started rolling in the grass; even the grass caught on fire,” said Jose. “It was horrible, something you see out of a movie; they were lit up on fire.”
Carrillo said she and her husband heard a loud bang and ran out to see what was happening.
“My uncle (Jose “Ramiro” Rodriguez) was the first one to the scene; I went out to help.” Recalling what she had seen, Dalilah said, “I walked a few of the victims to the ambulance. Looking back to their injuries, it’s hard.”
Investigators with the Garland Fire Department, ATF, and Fire Marshal’s Office continued working to uncover what caused the explosion.
Atmos Energy confirmed that it sent trained technicians to the scene at the request of Garland police.
“We worked closely with emergency responders and shut off gas to the home,” Atmos said in a statement. “We completed a preliminary investigation and believe that our system is operating as expected. We found no indications that our system was involved.”
Despite her grief, Godinez still appreciated those who helped rescue her family from the burning home.
“I just want to say thank you to those brave men that pulled my family out of the house, and God bless them,” Godinez said. “Me and my brother are very grateful for them.”
Nieces and a nephew of Paula Reyes created a GoFundMe Account so that others may contribute funds to help the surviving family members with expenses. The traumatic incident occurred just a few months after Godinez’s father died.