Young Fire Victims

Tragedy struck the rural community of Tecolotito in southern San Miguel County on Feb. 4, when a fire broke out at a home and two small children, ages 3 and 2, died inside.

The cause of the mid-afternoon fire remains under investigation. 

The victims are Estevan Arturo “Pewee” Romero-Maldonado, who was to turn 4 years old in July, and 2-year-old Addilyn Marie “Sissy” Romero-Maldonado.

According to New Mexico State Police, the report of a structure fire in the Comanche Drive area came in at around 3 p.m., with “multiple fire department agencies” dispatched as well.

“The initial investigation indicates that at the time of the fire there were two adult males outside the residence, and two adult females and two small children inside the residence,” State Police spokesperson Officer Ray Wilson told The Communicator. “The two adult females were able to safely exit the house. The two children were unable to exit the residence. Attempts were made by the adults to rescue the children but were unsuccessful.”

The children’s bodies were recovered two days later and pronounced deceased on the scene by the Office of the Medical Investigator.

This is an ongoing investigation. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the New Mexico State Fire Marshalls Office.  

First cousin Alley Romero was watching over the burned home Feb. 8. Caution tape blocked anyone from getting too close to the scene of the fire, and Romero said she told her uncle she wouldn’t let anyone disturb the scene. The fatal fire and its cause remain under investigation, so the private property remained off limits to a reporter that day.

Romero is also a volunteer firefighter with the Anton Chico Fire Department. She said she was in Las Vegas when she heard about the fire and rushed to the scene, where an army of neighbors were already there trying to extinguish the fire.

“Everybody was fighting it, with hoses, shovels, whatever they could. The whole community was here. But it happened way too fast. When it hit oxygen, that was it.”

“When I got here, it was already up in flames,” another first cousin, Sabrina Romero, said after pulling up beside the travel trailer set up in front of the burned home.

She said a number of people tried to enter the home to get the children out. Phillip Romero, an uncle, burned his hands and feet trying to get to them, she said.

“They were eight feet from the door,” she said, recalling what they found when finally able to retrieve the bodies.

The children’s mother, Sara Romero, works at the Comfort Inn in Santa Rosa. Her boss, Rupal Jyoti Bhakta, launched a GoFundMe account for her. 

“On Saturday she lost everything,” she wrote as explanation for the fundraiser. “Her soul was shattered. Please help us raise money to help Sara get a new home and help her cope with this loss.

As of Wednesday evening, $10,894 had been raised. Visit to donate.

Estevan and Addilyn are the children of Sara Romero and John Maldonado. They were both born in Albuquerque and were being raised in Tecolotito, where they were part of a large family.

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