House Fire Claims One in Texas

Onlookers rescued a man from a burning Lawnwood Avenue home but couldn't save his companion Sunday in the city's first fire fatality of the year.

The body of the 35-year-old Arlington woman was found by firefighters under debris in a garage that had been converted to a bedroom, fire Lt. Kent Worley said. Her name was not released pending notification of her family.

The man, Sergio Gomez, 49, was taken by CareFlite helicopter ambulance to Parkland Memorial Hospital, Worley said. His condition was unavailable Sunday afternoon.

Gomez was burned, but smoke inhalation seemed to be his most serious medical problem, Worley said.

Investigators were trying to find the cause of the fire, which began on or around a couch by a living-room wall near the bedroom, he said.

Neighbor Felix Garcia, 28, took part in the rescue. He said he, his three brothers and a friend saw that the house was on fire, kicked their way through the wooden panels of the garage door and moved aside insulation. They pulled Gomez, who was on the floor, from the garage, Garcia said.

They saw the woman lying in the center of the room and covered by debris, but the heat and smoke were too intense for them to reach her, he said.

Worley said, "There were remnants of a smoke detector, but there's no way to tell if it was operating."

The Fire Department was dispatched to the home, in the 3700 block of Lawnwood, at 11:03 a.m. and arrived three minutes later, by which time Garcia and the others had gotten Gomez out, Worley said.

The firefighters were told that the woman was inside and found her dead under insulation and debris, Worley said.

Three adults and five children lived at the rental home, he said.

The woman who died was visiting, Worley said. At the time of the fire, only the woman and Gomez, a tenant who occupied the bedroom, were in the house, Worley said.