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Man Describes Frantic Efforts To Save Family From Fire

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Julio Garcia (credit: CBS)

Julio Garcia (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver man described to CBS4 his frantic efforts to save his wife and two stepchildren from a house fire in Denver.

The fire was early Tuesday morning at 455 South Eliot Street in Denver near Alameda and Federal. Investigators think unattended candles at a religious alter started the fire.

Patricia Garcia and her children, Diana and Juan, are all hospitalized in critical condition. Patricia Garcia is at University of Colorado Hospital and the children are at The Children’s Hospital.

fire victims Man Describes Frantic Efforts To Save Family From Fire

An image of the victims (credit: CBS)

The stepfather, Julio Garcia, said he tried but couldn’t get to his family. Through an interpreter he told CBS4′s Jodi Brooks he had his wife by the hand but she let go to get the children and they we never reunited.

“Sometimes he’s still in a state of shock you know. He’s running it through his head,” interpreter Arlene Gallegos said. Gallegos is the sister of Patricia Garcia. “When it started they were all in bed. He said the dogs were barking, he thought someone was breaking in the vehicles. When he woke up, he opened the door and saw the fire and the smoke.”

Julio Garcia said he only did what instinct told him.

“He got my sister, his wife and pulled her by the hand and told her to get the kids and get out,” Gallegos said. “He said it was so full of flames and it was smoky and stuff and she let go of him; she ran to room and he went to break a window in the back.”

He said they couldn’t breathe and they couldn’t see because it was pitch black with smoke.

“He was yelling out for Pat and she wasn’t answering, so he ran out the back door,” Gallegos said.

Julio Garcia grabbed his garden hose. That’s about when firefighters arrived and rescued his family.

Julio Garcia’s wife and stepchildren are heavily sedated on breathing and feeding tubes. Doctors told the family they will get worse before they get better. Juan suffered the worst with second- and third-degree burns on his chest, forehead, hand and foot.

“The only thing he wants is the help of God that his family is okay, his wife and his kids,” Gallegos said.

The family will face huge medical bills. To help them a fund has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank. Just mention the “South Eliot House Fire” fund at any Wells Fargo branch.

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