Children killed in apartment fire - Dallas News |

Cause of southeast Dallas fire that left 2 children dead still unknown

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Investigators are still trying to find the cause of a Dallas apartment fire on Sunday that left two children dead and neighbors emotionally shaken.

A call for the fire came in around 9:15 a.m. from the Casa Flora Apartments in the 2600 block of Highland Road, according to a spokesperson for Dallas Fire-Rescue.

When firefighters arrived on scene, they entered the second-floor apartment and quickly extinguished the flames, but one child was not able to get out in time. Firefighters pulled the 5-year-old boy out of the unit, where he was pronounced dead.

The child's mother and her two other children managed to get out of the apartment, but they were seriously injured and taken to a nearby hospital. One of those children, a 4-year-old girl, later died at the hospital.

Family members have identified the victims as Natalie and Nathaniel Martinez.

The children's mother remains in the hospital in critical condition, where many neighbors went to visit her Monday.  

Neighbors next door at the time of the fire knew something wasn't right.

"It got hot," said one neighbor. "I told her to turn the heat off. She said she turned the heat off. Next thing we know, we hear a big boom."

Neighbors then saw the tiny apartment engulfed in flames, and the mother on the landing below. Some of them grabbed fire extinguishers, except those that had melted, and tried to help, but it was too late -- Nathaniel and Natalie were trapped in a bathroom.

"They were normal little kids," said neighbor Erika Lopez. "They played. They ran around. They got in trouble."

Fire crews said that because of an increase in the number of fires this time of year, everyone should check their smoke detectors to make sure they're working and form an escape plan in case of a fire.

Investigators are taking a close look at whether the smoke detectors in the apartment were working properly.

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