Boy, 11, dies in St. Cloud mobile home fire, officials say​

Victim identified as James Vega

By Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor, Jennifer Ortega - Reporter

ST. CLOUD, Fla. - An 11-year-old boy was killed after a house fire broke out at the Golden Grove Mobile Home Park in St. Cloud on Wednesday.

Officials said James Vega died in the fire, which was reported at 7 a.m. at a home on Lime Drive. It took firefighters 20 minutes to put the fire out.

Alejandra Barrera was still shaking hours after the blaze was put out. She took video of the fire and says authorities told neighbors to go back into their homes.

"The flames were coming. We heard the explosions. It was bad. It was loud. It was terrifying," Barrera said.

Across the street from the mobile home park, Angel Albelo had just arrived to work when he heard someone screaming.

"Lady was screaming, 'Help, my son!' Little girl was screaming too, with her dog in her hands. I'm still nervous about it. It gave me chills and everything," Albelo said.

Several people called 911 to report the fire.

"I can hear people screaming and I went outside. I can see, like, flames in the air. It's in the back of the park," one 911 caller said.

Fire crews were about a block away putting out a vehicle fire when the call came in. Authorities say the two fires were not related.

St. Cloud police and fire crews responded within minutes, but it was too dangerous for them to rescue three people inside the home.

"They couldn't put themselves in that situation," St. Cloud Police Sgt. Anthony Miller said. "If a firefighter and an officer went into that house, there's no way they would've made it out. These structures are not concrete so they have a tendency to go up a lot quicker than other structures."

Fire officials told News 6 that a good Samaritan tried breaking windows to help. He suffered injuries and was sent to the hospital.

Two people inside the home made it out. One suffered burns and was sent to ORMC. The other occupant was OK.

"It really breaks my heart to know that young man, it just ... man," neighbor Howard Wielhouwer said. "I tried to get a hose out. I tried to do what I could, but I couldn't reach. The water couldn't reach. My neighbor really tried to help, tried to break the window, tried to save the boy."

A single statue of an angel sits out front, the head bowed down -- the only item near the home not scorched by the flames.

A spokeswoman from the School District of Osceola County said James was an elementary school student.

"Our crisis team is assisting the students, faculty, staff, and the family with this terrible loss. At this time, memorials haven’t been planned," she said.

St. Cloud Deputy Fire Chief Jason Miller tpld News 6 that it was the first fatal fire in St. Cloud in more than five years.

"There's no training for this. There's no training for fatalities. It's just one (of) the unfortunate parts of the job," Miller said.

The state fire marshal is investigating what caused the fire, but detectives told News 6 that it could have been caused by something electrical.


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