Family of 3 dies in house fire

Father, neighbors tried to rescue mom, 6-year-old

HOUSTON - A 6-year-old girl, her mother and father died after a north Harris County house fire.

Harris County fire crews were called to the home on Cicada Lane near Highway 59 around 12 a.m. Thursday.

Neighbor Darius Chandler lives across the street. He saw flames roaring from the home and ran to get a flashlight so he could help.

"I ran into the house to get some flashlights so we could see if anyone else was in the house.  I gave it to the guy across the street.  I had my own and we went inside the house to see if we could get to the upstairs. But we couldn't because the fire was right in front of the stairs," Chandler said.

When firefighters made their way into the home, they found all three people on the ground near the back door.

Firefighters said the father, Javier Martinez, 25, tried to get to his fiancée, Liliana Perales, and daughter, Alessandra, to save them. They said he broke out a window and used a ladder, but it was too late. Liliana Pearales, 25, and Alessandra were dead. 

Martinez and Perales were high school sweethearts. They were set to get married in November.

"You could hear screams all the way over here, like, 'I want my kids. Please help me. Take them out. Take them out,'" family friend Oscar Morales said.

Rescue crews said Martinez was cut up and burned from head to toe. He was transported to the hospital in critical condition, but he later died.

Fire investigators said the entire home was damaged, but it appears most of the fire was confined to the kitchen in the back of the home.

"I heard a big old burst whenever I saw and looked out my window, saw a big burst of black cloud. That's when I called 911," neighbor Esperanza Zuniga said.

"Last night, we went to sleep and everything was fine, and this morning, I wake up to my girlfriend screaming on the phone and she said, 'My sister and niece just died.' It's just horrible," Morales said.

Fire Marshal's Office investigators said they are working to find the cause of the blaze, and foul play is not suspected. Investigators said the fire started in a bedroom.

The family had moved into the home two weeks ago.

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