COAHOMA — Officials with the Big Spring Fire Department and Howard County Volunteer Fire Department are investigating a house fire that claimed the lives of two Coahoma residents during the early morning hours Sunday.
Petra Arguello, 60, and 9-year-old Jacob Arguello were pronounced dead by Justice of the Peace Bennie Green at the scene of the fire, which was reported at 110 S. Main St. in Coahoma, according to Howard County Sheriff Stan Parker.
“An emergency call was received at approximately 4:57 a.m. Sunday in reference to a house fire,” Parker said. “The Howard County Volunteer Fire Department, Big Spring Fire Department and Howard County Sheriff’s Office all responded. Upon arrival the home was fully engulfed in flames.”
Parker said at the time of the fire six people were inside the residence.
“Four persons made it out of the residence safely,” Parker said.
“However, two persons were unable to escape the residence. After the fire was extinguished the bodies of 60-year-old Petra Arguello and 9-year-old Jacob Arguello were discovered inside the residence.”
Parker said autopsies have been ordered for the two victims and are set to be performed in Lubbock.
“The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental, with human involvement,” Parker said. “The investigation is being conducted by BSFD Arson Investigator Dan Hendrickson and HCVFD Chief Tommy Sullivan.”
Parker said the home was a total loss.
Sullivan said the fire was caused by a gas stove being used to heat the home.
“You see accidents like this when people try to use appliances like these for purposes other than those they were designed for,” Sullivan said. “They were using the stove to heat the house, and the burners overheated and failed.”
According to Sullivan and Big Spring Fire Marshall Carl Condray, the number of structure fires — including smoke scares and smaller fires — have steadily increased since the weather has turned cool.
“When the temperature begins to fall and people start looking for ways to stay warm, we usually see an increase in calls,” said Condray. “Some are just smoke scares, but some of them are very serious, and can even turn deadly.”
Sullivan urges area residents to use care when heating their home.
“There are just so many different things that can go wrong in a situation like that,” Sullivan said, “All they were trying to do was stay warm. We talk to people everyday about the dangers of using stoves and other appliances as a heating source, but then you see something like this ... you see them pull the body of a 9-year-old little girl out of what's left of the house. That's real. It doesn't get anymore real than that.”