AUSTIN, Texas — A third person has now died after she was rescued from an East Austin Fire during the winter storm on Feb. 17.
Officials said two people were declared deceased on scene. One person was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. That victim, a 91-year-old woman, died, the Austin Fire Department announced two days later.
A 58-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman were identified as the two who died on the scene of the fire.
When firefighters arrived that morning, they saw large plumes of smoke coming from the building with the three people still inside. They made an interior attack to search after getting reports of five adults at the address. Crews found three inside and one was transported to the hospital in critical condition.
The fire has since been extinguished and there is no indication of foul play at this time.
Officials said it does not appear everyone lived in the same structure. There were a couple of occupants in an outbuilding at the address and one in a small attached apartment. Three were removed from the front side of the residence.
At the time of the fire, the power was believed to be out at the building during the fire. This will be investigated, the AFD said.
Firefighters did not find a smoke alarm in the structure. At this time, it is not known what started the fire or if the occupants were attempting to warm themselves. There is no indication of a gas explosion or gas leak, the AFD said.
"We understand that people have been without power for an extremely long amount of time and they're cold," said Brandon Wade, assistant chief of operations with AFD. "The Austin Fire Department and EMS have responded to numerous people trying to warm themselves by starting fires inside, maybe by barbecues pits or whathaveyou. That's an extremely, extremely dangerous action to do. So if you cannot warm yourself with blankets or any other heating device, we're going to ask you to try to go to a warming shelter or friend's house. We absolutely do not want people starting fires inside their house."
The AFD said it received numerous calls from people who have attempted who have lit fires in an attempt to stay warm.
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