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Mother, daughter killed in Hialeah house fire

Victims found on bed near window with bars on it

HIALEAH, Fla. – A house fire killed two women early Thursday morning in Hialeah, authorities said.

Hialeah Fire Department Capt. Cesar Espinosa said light smoke was seen coming from the roof of the home at 515 W. 79th Place when firefighters arrived shortly after 4 a.m.

Authorities said every window of the home had bars on it, which likely trapped the women inside. 

Firefighters forced their way into the home through the front door after prying open the bars, but the thick smoke made it difficult for them to see, Espinosa said.

As they made their way inside, firefighters found two women on a bed near a window, Espinosa said.

"They were found in the bedroom on top of each other," Espinosa said. "Apparently, they were met by fire as they made their way out of the house, and they were found by the window, near the bed, trying to get out."

Firefighters pulled the women out, but they were pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

Authorities believe that the women were overcome by the smoke. 

Relatives identified the women as Emilia Rodriguez, 87, and her daughter, Alva Soto, 65. 

Neighbors told Local 10 News that the women lived together at the home. 

"Everybody here is close to people -- neighbors," one neighbor, Antero Blanco, said. 

Maritza Rodriguez is the eldest of Emilia Rodriguez's grandchildren. She told Local 10 News that she recently moved to South Florida from New York to help take care of her grandmother. 

"We didn't want her in a nursing home, so I came down to live with them," Maritza Rodriguez said. "But I left Aug. 4, and was supposed to come back this Sunday." 

Blanco said the mother and daughter have lived at the home for nearly 30 years. 

"Nice family, nice -- very nice," Blanco said.

Firefighters warn people who have bars on their homes that the bars should come with keys or a way to open them in situations like this.

"We encourage people to practice exit drills in the house," Espinosa said. "Unless you practice, it makes it difficult to execute."

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


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