SAN MARCOS, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic Iconic Village Apartment fire that killed five people and injured multiple others.
July 20th’s blaze claimed the lives of five people. 21-year-old Belinda Moats, 19-year-old Haley Michele Frizzell, 21-year-old David Ortiz, 20-year-old Dru Estes and 23-year-old James Miranda.
In November, investigators announced the fire was no accident it was intentionally set.
Since then, Fire Marshal Kelly Kristner said the department has been following up on leads and reviewing any existing evidence. “It is something that has forever changed our lives personally and professionally,” Kristner said. “Arson investigations can sometimes take hours, sometimes years for us to solve. The complexity is there, there were so many people who were living in the apartment complex. However, given the time of day there weren’t many people out so there weren’t as many eyewitnesses.”
The apartments were built in the late 70’s. Kristner said the buildings were up to code but did not have a sprinkler system or a central alarm system. Causing residents to depend on individual smoke alarms in their room to warn them.
Since the fire, the department has made an asserted effort to increase fire prevention education in the community. Inspectors will be checking in with apartment property managers annually to make sure everything is up to code including fire escape routes.
70-percent of San Marcos residents live in apartments.
“Would sprinklers have made a difference in control of the fire that is possible,” Kristner said. “Could it have slowed the growth? That’s what sprinklers are there for as well. Can it make a difference can sprinklers make a difference? Absolutely.”
In the face of tragedy, the San Marcos community rallied behind one another helping those affected by the fire. Few residents stayed but many moved out. Meg Knighten lives across the street from what’s left of the Iconic Village Apartments.
She used to live in building 700, one of the few buildings left untouched. “It’s heartbreaking I really had a hard time with it for a while,” Knighten said. “I think it was the fact that it was so communal that I just kind of felt like that was shattered and it was difficult for a while that’s why I had to move.”
Victim’s families have since filed suit against the property owners and managers claiming gross negligence and wrongful death. Kristner said justice is what is department is fighting for. “We are closer today than we were a year ago today, we continue to work the leads continue to work with all the information that’s provided on to us,” Kristner said. “We are confident that it’s not going to be if it is solved it is going to be when it is solved.
If you any information regarding this case you are asked to contact The San Marcos Fire Department. There is a reward of $10,000 to any information that leads to an arrest.