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Fire at home kills Albuquerque teenager

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the hours after a fire destroyed the second-story bedroom of a Southeast Albuquerque home, extended family parked their cars in a row, supporting a mother and father as they waited to hear more information about their 16-year-old daughter who died inside.

Vincent Vu said his daughter, a student at Manzano High School, felt sick and stayed home from school on Wednesday. A fire broke out around 11:40 a.m. in the girl’s bedroom, and firefighters during search and rescue efforts found her body shortly after the blaze was extinguished, according to fire officials.

His daughter would have turned 17 next week, Vu said.

A neighbor, 17-year-old Linda Torres, said she used to see the Vu children taking turns skateboarding, but she didn’t really know the girl since they attended different schools. Torres said the Vus moved to the neighborhood about three years ago. The Vus lived across the street from the Torreses. She didn’t know how many people lived in the house, but estimated it was at least 10. Family and friends were always coming and going, she said.

“Whenever I was out with my friends I’d see her out and about with her friends,” Torres said. “She was laughing, hugging, and having a great time in the front yard.”

Linda Torres’ father, Ray Torres, described the Vietnamese family as a large, close-knit family who mainly kept to themselves in the neighborhood. Ray, who was home when the fire broke out, said he could see thick smoke coming from the house and several firefighters battling the flames.

“There was lots and lots of smoke and about 12 firetrucks,” Ray said. “Then it started to rain and the smoke cleared out a bit.”

Multiple callers reported the fire at 1839 Black Gold SE shortly before noon, according to Melissa Romero, spokeswoman for the Albuquerque Fire Department. Firefighters responded to the scene within five minutes, she said, and worked quickly to prevent the flames from spreading into the rest of the house.

“There weren’t any other injuries,” Romero added. “There was a lot of heavy smoke and fire damage through the second story window, which was the actual room where she was found.”

Investigators are working to determine the origin of the fire and the state Office of the Medical Investigator is examining the girl’s body before releasing what caused her death.

 

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