The winter ice storm claimed the lives of a mother and her two children as they tried to keep warm in their mobile home.
Natalie Tienda, 33, and her children Kienna, 11, and Tristan, 9, were asleep when the fire started at around 4:00 a.m. early Wednesday morning.
Authorities responded to the home, located in the 100 block of Cherry Laurel Street in Huffman, but it was too late to save them.
David Tienda, the children’s father, was badly burned in the fire. He had escaped and alerted neighbors, who he recruited for help in saving his family.
Authorities say the screams of his children woke the father, who attempted to rescue them from the flames.
“He was trying to go in and get his family out,” said Capt. Dean Hensley of the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, according to the Houston Chronicle. “He did everything he could, he just wasn’t able to get to them. The fire was just too intense.”
Tienda and the neighbors broke out all of the windows in an attempt to rescue the victims, but they were ultimately unsuccessful.
“(I) heard screaming, woke up, went to the room, tried to bust out the windows all around the house and tried to help them out as best I could but it was too late, the house was already in flames,” neighbor Daniel Benkin told KPRC.
Authorities believe the mother died trying to save her children.
“We understand from talking to the dad that obviously she was trying to get them and get out ? they were both trying to get the kids out,” explained Hensley. “Obviously when you’re in smoke and fire, you get disoriented. You get overcome by the smoke and sometimes people just collapse where they are.”
Officials say they located several space heaters in the home, which may be the source of the fire. The day before, the family had an issue with a breaker in the home, which may also be a factor.
?They were just trying to stay warm,? said Natalie’s sister, Melissa Gonzales. ?It?s a shame that that happened. They were just trying to stay warm.”
Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire.
An older sibling was in the hospital at the time of the incident, and escaped harm.
The family has set up a Go Fund Me account in the wake of the tragedy.