TEMPLE — Thirty-year-old Alejandro Torres Jr. died in a house fire Wednesday night on Irene Lane in Salado, Bell County Fire Marshal Steve Casey said.

Torres, a 2002 Salado High School graduate, was pronounced dead by Justice of the Peace Ted Duffield, who ordered an autopsy.

Nine other people living in the house managed to escape the blaze. The fire started in Torres’ bedroom, Casey said. A neighbor saw the fire and called 911.

A space heater is being looked at in connection with the fire, Casey said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The two-story house, which had several additions, was fully engulfed when the Salado Volunteer Fire Department got the call at 11:25 p.m. Stillhouse Volunteer Fire Department helped fight the flames, Salado Fire Chief Shane Berrier said.

The house had no smoke detectors, Casey said.

A trailer with two people living in it was parked next to the house and caught fire because of the extreme heat, Casey said, adding that a car with no license plates on it also burned.

The extreme cold added to the difficulty of putting out the fire, Berrier said. The water sprayed from the hoses froze as firefighters battled the fire, he said.

Firefighters were still putting out hot spots Thursday morning, Berrier said.

Another fire on Irene Lane left a family homeless Dec. 18 when an air conditioning unit caught fire.

The home of Carmen and Geronimo Soto and the four grandchildren they are raising was destroyed.

Community helps families

Wednesday’s fire destroyed the household possessions of two Salado families. The community is stepping up to supply their immediate needs.

“If there is any light in the midst of all this, a donor is providing each kid a $2,000 gift card to help buy new clothing and other things they need,” said Michael Novotny, Salado Independent School District superintendent. “That donor is also paying for all of Mr. Torres’ funeral expenses.”

Wednesday’s fire claimed the home of the Torres and Olivarez families in the 1100 block of Irene Lane. Both families have children in Salado ISD, Novotny said.

Anyone who wants to make a donation to help the families affected by the fire may contact Jessica Halfmann, Salado ISD’s Communities in Schools representative, at 254-947-6949. Donations of clothing, gift cards, cash and checks are being accepted and the drop-off site is Salado Intermediate School, 550 Thomas Arnold Road, in Salado.

The families are staying for a week at the Holiday Express and have clothes and food, which takes care of their short-term needs, Novotny said.

“But these families have a long road ahead of them,” he added.

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