Couple questioned, no charges filed yet
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Capt. Ron Puckett said a Quail Run resident and her boyfriend were questioned in last week's blaze at the apartment complex that killed a Hispanic couple and their young son.
Mario Salazar, 25, his wife Maria, 22, and their 10-month-old son, Kevin, were found dead in the bathroom of the family's upstairs apartment in Building C. An autopsy determined the family died of smoke inhalation.
Puckett did not name the couple brought in for questioning and said no charges have been brought against them.
"The apartment complex is being treated as a crime scene," Puckett said. "State fire marshals and investigators have returned the scene to interview residents and look for further information regarding the cause of the fire. We're really no closer now to knowing what started the fire than we were a week ago."
Residents at Quail Run told investigators that a neighboring couple argued and may have burned pictures on an upstairs balcony near the Salazar's apartment.
Picking up the pieces
"The community has just responded wonderfully," Caring Place counselor Virginia Alexander said one week after the apartment fire that displaced eight families at Quail Run. "We would like to tell these families to please come see us. We are happy to assist."
According to Alexander, the Morgan-Lawrence County American Red Cross responded quickly to the victims and assessed their immediate needs. Fire vouchers were then issued to each family to acquire basic living necessities from The Caring Place once a permanent residence has been reestablished.
"We assisted one family last week who is already being relocated at Quail Run," Alexander said. "We expect to see a few more of those families this week."
Morgan-Lawrence County Red Cross Emergency Services Director Sheila Brazelton said six of the remaining seven families should be moving back into apartments at Quail Run this week. One family has decided to find another residence.
"Quail Run Property Manager Rickey Dye said the families will be relocated into vacant apartments that were under renovation at the time of the fire," Brazelton said. "He made the completion of those renovations top priority."
According to Brazelton, the Red Cross assisted the Salazars' family with expenses in shipping the bodies of the deceased back to their hometown in Mexico.
Surviving fire victims are being offered assistance in reestablishing their homes.
"Most of them literally lost everything," Brazelton said. "Some of the older residents had a lifetime of memories in their homes. That's something no one can replace."
The Red Cross will issue a bed, table and chairs, dresser, lamp, phone and a few other basics to each family. The Caring Place will assist families in obtaining food, additional linens, dishes, cleaning and hygiene products, additional beds and large furniture.
"We're saving the better couches especially for the fire victims," Alexander said. "The community has donated so much, but if anyone would still like to donate items to the fire victims, couches and other big furniture items and linens are still needed."
Alexander said all donations made for the Quail Run families will be set aside from the regular donation area and go directly to those recipients.
Although Alexander said each and every donation is heartily appreciated, one particular donation touched the hearts of her and other Caring Place volunteers above all others.
"Some children from the Bellemeade Street area filled two little paper sandwich bags with snacks, pennies, straws, an apple, and baseball cards to give to any children who might have lost their home in the fire," Alexander said. "Those baseball cards had to be special to the child who put them in the bag. It just tore my heart up. If that's not the sweetest thing I've ever seen, I don't know what is."
To make furniture donations for fire victims to The Caring Place, call 773-7922. To make monetary or other donations for fire victims to the Morgan-Lawrence County Chapter American Red Cross, call 353-4891.