Revealing new details in deadly Three Rivers fire
THREE RIVERS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Flowers, sympathy cards and stuffed animals cover the fence outside the Sequoia Cider Mill restaurant in Three Rivers. Friends and even some complete strangers have been stopping by to pay their respects to the teenager killed in last week's fire.
"I feel for the families that lost the boy. I just don't know how to express it. I feel sorry for all of them," said Carol Qualls of Farmersville. Qualls didn't know the teenager or the family -- but would frequent the establishment.
Investigators say 13-year-old Geordie Gonzalez was watching TV in the back storage room when the fire broke out Friday afternoon. His mother, Elizabeth Gonzalez, worked at the restaurant as a waitress.
In a cell phone video sent to Action News by a viewer -- we see large plumes of thick smoke and flames coming through the roof. Gonzalez was trapped inside, trying to escape through a window. "The windows are a very old type, had the metal railings coming across with only about 4 inches of glass and [Gonzalez] was unsuccessful," said Tulare County Fire Investigator Kevin Riggi.
Investigators say Gonzalez's mother got minor cuts to her arm trying to break the glass and save the boy. "As a parent you're going to do everything possible that you can do. Breaking out the windows, those metal bars made it very difficult for her to have any success," said Riggi.
Rescue crews eventually got the boy out but couldn't revive him. Gonzalez died of smoke inhalation.
"She did the right thing and I would have done anything in my power to get in there to save him too," said Qualls.
It could be several more days before a cause is determine. For now, investigators believe the fire was accidental.
tulare, three rivers, visalia, tulare county, local, carlos saucedo
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