Five Killed in Marina Care Facility Fire; Cause of Blaze Unknown
November 6, 2011
The names of the five residents who died Saturday night in a fire that engulfed their Marina care facility were released today by the Marina Fire and Police Departments.
As family members wept, Marina Fire Chief Harold Kelly read the names of the deceased: John Hernandez, 21; Rubicella Ramirez, 26; Janette Navarro, 22; Monica Calderon, 24; and Mary Morales, 22.
Kelly said at Monday's press conference that the cause of the fire is still unknown. The California Department of Social Services is now investigating the facility, Mt. Carmel Adult Residential Facility, and its owners, Purita Belmonte, Julieta Duerr and William Duerr. There have been no prior complaints against the facility. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also assisting Marina officials, along with the Monterey County Fire Investigator.
The fire started in the front bedroom of the house, where two residents were sleeping, just before 11:45pm Saturday. Firefighters arrived on the scene at Seaside Court to find the whole building engulfed in flames. The facility's two caregivers, who were outside when first responders arrived, confirmed that there were still people inside the building.
Twenty-three firefighters from various agencies assisted at the scene, removing five people from the building. Four of the five died at the scene; another, unnamed male, 22, is being treated at a nearby hospital. The last victim was not discovered until Sunday morning in the heavily damaged room where the fire had started.
Three police officers were taken to local hospitals for smoke inhalation injuries. All were treated and released Sunday.
Kelly said that all rooms were equipped with smoke detectors, which first alerted the caregivers to the fire. The facility did not have sprinklers, but passed fire code inspections.
Mayor Bruce Delgado extended condolences to the families grieving in the wake of what he called the deadliest event in Marina's recent history. He invited local organizations interested in helping the victims to present at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Connie Cruz (pictured above), the mother of victim Monica Calderon, hoped the investigation would progress quickly.
"I just want answers," she said through tears.