DALLAS (AP) — There were no sprinklers installed in the almost 50-year-old apartment building where authorities recovered at least four of five bodies following a massive fire in San Marcos, officials reported Monday.
The blaze, which displaced about 200 people, began early Friday and caused extensive damage to the Iconic Village apartments and the Vintage Pads apartments located north of Texas State University, according to the city.
City Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner said four bodies had been were found in a single apartment building, which did not have sprinklers since it was built in 1970 and was code compliant when constructed. Kistner said he did not know the status of the smoke detectors in the building.
Later, city officials say a fifth body was recovered but did not say from where. The city previously reported five people were unaccounted for following the blaze and at least six people were left injured. The five missing were identified as James Miranda, Haley Frizzell, Belinda Moats, David Ortiz and Dru Estes.
Authorities said the five bodies have been sent to the medical examiner’s office in nearby Travis County for identification. The city statement says positive identification may take more than a week to establish.
“As a community, our hearts are broken,” said San Marcos Mayor John Thomaides at a Monday press conference. “We’ve lost so much. We’ve lost the love, energy, optimism and potential of these young souls.”
The cause of the fire remains unknown and search and recovery efforts will continue until all possible victims are found, Kistner said. City Fire Chief Les Stephens said more than 50 agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were working Monday morning to help determine the cause and origin of the blaze.
Christina Martinez, who lived at an Iconic Village apartment building the city says was engulfed by the fire, told the Austin American-Statesman she remembers looking out her kitchen window and seeing the courtyard in flames.
“(Luckily) enough, I was in the living room,” she said, mentioning she got out before the fire got to her room.
“Everything I own was in that apartment,” she said.