Authorities now know the cause of the fire that killed a 4-year-old in Muleshoe on Wednesday. The fire started with the young boy's curiosity, a gas can and a pilot light.
"We received a 911 call in reference to a structure fire on the 100 block of West 6th Street here in town and that there was possible a child in the structure," said Muleshoe Police Chief, Brian Freida.
Little did Chief Frieda and the firefighters know that their worst fears were about to come true. There was a little boy in the fire, 4-year-old Sixi Alfredo Barrera Ortega.
"Our preliminary finding is that this is related to a gas can," Frieda said.
Investigators believe Sixi knocked the gas can over. As the gasoline flowed across the floor, fumes from the liquid gas ignited in the pilot light of the home's gas hot water heater. That caused an explosion, knocking off the hot water heaters gas line further, adding to the fury of the fire.
"There was a strange sound heard and that's when the mother attempted to get into the structure, but it was already to the point where she couldn't get in. In fact she received burns to her hands and arms," said Frieda.
Made evident from the melted nickel wiring, temperatures within the structure reached up to 1800 degrees with flames that shot has high as a tree in the yard, which was also burned.
"It's just an instance of an unfortunate accident where children were involved with a gas can or gas related product or playing with matches," said Frieda.
A memorial fund is in place to help the family with funeral expenses. You can donate to the Sixi Alfredo Barrera Ortega Fund at Muleshoe National Bank.
Sixi's death follows another death in July here in Lubbock where a 2-year-old girl died after playing with a gas can and ignited due to sparklers nearby.
Chief Frieda is urging adults to make sure they remove gas cans from a child's reach. He says these types of tragedies can and should be prevented.
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