8-year-old girl dies in San Jose apartment fire

July 25, 2010 5:54:44 PM PDT
A fire at an apartment building in San Jose claimed the life of an 8-year-old girl Sunday. At least nine others were injured when the fire burned through an apartment building on Hamilton Avenue at Meridian in the Willow Glen neighborhood, just before 2 a.m.

The cause remains under investigation, but fire investigators say it does not appear to be suspicious. For now, 25 people who lived in the apartment complex have been displaced. The Red Cross is assisting in finding them temporary housing.

"The mother was yelling," said neighbor Ramon Paramo. "I tried to get in there, but no way."

The ground floor unit was already engulfed in flames when neighbors realized the little girl was trapped inside.

"About three guys tried... you couldn't get in," Paramo recalled. "Some people broke the windows in the back, threw water in there, it was too much heat."

Firefighters made it to the scene within six minutes, but even then, it was too late. They found 8-year-old Adileni Gomez Macedo in the back bedroom. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

"It's a very small apartment. They went to the bedroom and they found the little girl there. She was by herself in the room on the floor," said Capt. Debbie Ward with the San Jose Fire Department.

Adileni lives in North Carolina, but neighbors say she was in town attending a baptism for a young family member who also lives in the now gutted apartment unit.

Nine others who live in the complex also suffered minor injuries during the fire.

"I went to sleep, all of a sudden I woke up to a pounding on my door. There was a fire in the building," said neighbor Sara Swanson.

It was a busy night for San Jose firefighters. No one was injured in a two-alarm fire that burned two apartments in another building around 2:30 a.m. And just before 4:30 a.m., a stovetop fire prompted the evacuation of a senior living center. The person whose stove caught fire suffered from smoke inhalation.

Out of the three locations, two are in neighborhoods where fire stations are slated for closure because of budget cuts.

"We just do our job," said Ward. "We're going to do what we can with what we have."

Crime scene investigators spent hours searching for clues... they still don't know whether the smoke alarm was working -- it melted in the flames.

"It should have been me instead of her," said Paramo. "I'm already going on 83 years old and she's just barely starting to live."

Paramo also says family member were supposed to take the little girl back home to North Carolina Sunday.

The firefighters who rescued her from the burning building work for one of those fire stations that is facing cutbacks.


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