RUSKIN -- A Tampa Bay-area man says he couldn't reach his 4-year-old daughter when a fire engulfed their mobile home.
Alejandra Carmona died in the fire late Friday in Ruskin. Monico Carmona Jr. and his girlfriend escaped the blaze with three other children.
Carmona tells The Tampa Tribune that he has burns on his hands and ears and cuts from trying to move furniture and punch through windows to get to his children. His girlfriend and the other children were not badly injured.
When firefighters arrived at the mobile home, they couldn't immediately get to one side because the fire had knocked down live power lines, said Chip Shields of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue. Once TECO crews secured the downed lines, firefighters brought the blaze under control, Shields said.
The fire started while everyone was asleep, Carmona said.
His girlfriend woke him up when she smelled something burning. Carmona saw smoke coming from the bed and ran to get a cup of water, but the fire spread quickly.
The couple scrambled to get three young children out of the home, but the smoke quickly became too thick to see through, Carmona said.
A neighbor knocked out a window and tried to move a bunk bed in order to get to Alejandra, Carmona said. He heard other neighbors yelling for her to come closer to the window.
"There was nothing I could do," Carmona said. "It was just so hot, it was unbearable."
Carmona said he doesn't know what caused the fire, only that it started near the center of his bed. The couple had lit small candles for Valentine's Day hours before the fire but had blown them out.
On Saturday, neighbors left flowers at one end of the rubble in memory of Alejandra.