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Fire Kills 5 Children in Tijuana as Crews Hunt Route to Shack

May 12, 1997| From Associated Press

TIJUANA — Firefighters spent 30 minutes winding around narrow and unlighted streets to locate a burning shack where five children were eventually found dead.

Even after they arrived, firefighters had to wait for a water tanker to find its way there.

"The residents were shouting at them, throwing insults at them," a neighbor, Juana Gonzalez, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "They were saying things like, 'If you can't do anything, why did you come here?' "

Beatriz Aburto managed to save her 3-month-old daughter, but intense heat kept rescuers from the 20-by-20 foot structure.

By the time firefighters doused the blaze, Miriam Aburto, 6, Gloria, 5, Daniela, 4, and Alondra, 2, were dead. A cousin, 2-year-old Jose de Jesus Cardenas, also died.

A candle apparently started the blaze about 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Neighbors tried to douse the flames with pots of water dipped into 50-gallon drums that serve as a water supply.

Terrazas del Valle is one of Tijuana's few planned communities--although it's little more than a road grid laid by engineers over barren, rolling hills. There are no telephones or fire hydrants, and warped garage doors from California are frequently used to build the homes.

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