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December 5, 2013

Mother, baby still in critical condition after tragic Merced fire; its cause remains undetermined

A mother and her infant daughter remained in critical condition, two days after a fire at their home claimed the lives of three family members.

A mother and her infant daughter remained in critical condition Thursday, firefighters said, two days after a fire at their home claimed the lives of three of their family members.

The names of the 28-year-old mother and 13-month-old baby girl have not been released.

Ignacio Figueroa-Bautista, 31, the woman’s husband, and two 5-year-olds, Geraldine Figueroa-Perez and Jesus Perez-Manzo, died in the fire. Flames erupted about midnight Tuesday in the living room of their duplex at 264 E. 10th St. in Merced and gutted the unit. Merced City firefighters have called it a total loss.

Witnesses said Figueroa-Bautista got the mother and infant out of the unit and then went back into the blaze to rescue the other two children, but all three became trapped inside.

Merced City Fire Capt. Billy Alcorn said investigators have been unable to speak with the mother about the fire because of her medical condition, which they have described as “critical but stable.” She and the infant are being treated at the burn unit at Fresno Regional Medical Center.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

“We’re speaking with witnesses and working together with the private insurance investigators to determine what caused this fire,” Battalion Chief Don Roe said.

Investigators are asking anyone who may have witnessed the fire or who has any information to contact the Fire Department’s investigation unit at (209) 388-8822. Tips are confidential and callers can remain anonymous.

The two children killed in the fire were cousins. They attended separate kindergarten classes at Don Stowell Elementary School, two blocks from their home. Crisis counselors have been available for the 520 students on campus. School officials established a memorial fund to help the family pay for medical costs and the three funerals.

Donations can be made to the The Geraldine and Jesus Perez Memorial Fund at the Educational Employees Credit Union at 127 W. El Portal Drive in Merced or by calling (800) 538-3328.

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