The Howard Hughes Corporation® Joins with Firefighters to Help Prevent Home Fire Deaths in Montgomery County

Firefighters determined to make a difference after most recent fatal fire claims the lives of two small children and their great-grandmother. Children and the elderly at highest risk of dying in home fires, up to 4 times the risk as an average adult.
Today, The Montgomery County Fire Chief’s Association is pleased to announce that The Howard Hughes Corporation® has joined us as a founding partner in “Get Alarmed Montgomery County”, donating $2,500 to provide long-life smoke alarms for home owners that are unable to affort them. With their support, Montgomery County Firefighters will continue to go into the community and install these smoke alarms at no cost to eligible residents, with the goal of preventing another senseless loss of life.
“Get Alarmed Montgomery County”is a regional effort established by the Montgomery County Fire Chief’s Association. The program’s purpose is to promote fire safety and reduce the risk of loss of life to fire, especially for our most vulnerable citizens. National statistics reveal that children and the elderly are the most likely to lose their life in a fire, with the risk of death doubling when there are no working smoke alarms in the home. This program began as a collaborative effort between Firefighters, EMTs, and Community leaders after a late night fire claimed the lives of two small children and their great-grandmother. The fire occurred earlier this year in the Sommerset Estates subdivision in southeast Montgomery County.
It was a typical Friday night for the Zarate family. It was early June, as Marco and Amanda spent the evening together in their home with their four small children, brothers Daniel, Marco Jr. and Julian along with their infant sister, Vanessa and family matriarch, 92 year old Raquel Figueroa. Early in the evening the children were tucked into their beds, while the adults stayed up late to watch the NBA playoffs, eventually falling asleep in the living room of their one story brick home in the Sommerset Estates subdivision located southeast of Conroe off State Highway 242.
Sometime after the children were tucked into the bed, a small fire broke out on the kitchen stove, igniting the kitchen cabinets and spreading into the attic, filling the home with hot, toxic smoke. The home was equipped with a smoke alarm in the living room, but by all accounts it never sounded, either because it was too old or because the fire had disrupted the electrical power in the attic above the kitchen. At the time the home was built, new smoke alarms were not required to have a battery backup, relying solely on the home’s electrical service.
Marco was the first to wake up, followed by his wife, Amanda. They awoke to a parent’s worst nightmare, they could not see or breathe, and they could not reach their children’s bedrooms through the smoke filled hallway. In spite of frantic efforts on their part, along with neighbors and firefighters, they could only save two of their children. Firefighters arrived and pulled 6 yr old Marco Jr. and 1 yr old Vanessa from the home but both children succumbed to smoke inhalation. Firefighters then re-entered the home and found the body of their great-grandmother Raquel in the living room of the home.
An accidental kitchen fire, the most common type of fire in the nation today, had forever changed the lives of an extended family and all those who responded and knew them.
Our goal during this effort is to keep another family from suffering a similar tragedy. During a similar campaign last year, over 500 long-life smoke alarms were installed in bedrooms and hallways of nearly every home in the Tamina Community. Those alarms feature lithium batteries that will last as long as 10 years, helping to insure the safety of an entire community. With the support of partners like the Howard Hughes Corporation and others, we are going to extend this program throughout the county on a year round basis.
If you own your home and cannot afford smoke alarms, or need help installing alarms you already have, you can go by your local fire station or call the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office at (936) 538-8288.
The Montgomery County Fire Chief’s Association has established a donation fund for those who would like to support this effort. Donations large and small are welcome, and if your group would like to assist, please contact the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office at (936) 538-8288 or you can follow the Fire Chief’s Association on our Facebook page.
If you are renting your home, State Law requires that your landlord install working smoke alarms in every bedroom and in the hallways serving them. Once the alarms are installed in rental property, tenants are responsible for replacing the batteries. If you own rental property or are renting and have questions, please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office for assistance.

Montgomery County Fire Chief’s Association – Donation
Montgomery County Fire Chief’s Association – Donation

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