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Kids With Matches Likely Caused Local Blaze

It’s a situation no one wants to face, especially a parent. Not knowing where you and your children will spend the night. That’s the challenge facing on family after the place they called home, went up in smoke.

The fire happened Monday morning in the 9500 block of Japonica Street in northeast El Paso.

El Paso fire officials say children playing with matches caused the blaze.

“When we pulled up in the driveway, I looked at the house and I thought the sky looked kind of reddish,” explained Stephanie Wilson, who was out with a friend when the fire broke out.

“Fire just came everywhere and then as soon as we got outside, flames went everywhere,” said Sebastian LaCarbonara, who was sleeping when the blaze sparked.

Trapped in those flames were the family’s pets. Jamie Samstag, who was also asleep, tearfully remembered hearing her dogs and cats crying, “My kitten, she was only 2 months and I thought I would have her forever.”

Wilson and her daughter Jamie had lived at the home for a couple years. Sebastian LaCarbonara, 6, his brother Benjamin, 3, and their mom are family relatives who were staying with the mom and daughter.

“Their mom woke them up and she luckily woke up soon enough to get them out,” said Wilson.

About two days after the fire the air still smelled like smoke, the ground was still wet and the air in the house felt heavy. Fire officials said the blaze started in the kitchen. That part of the house was a total loss.

“This is our family home. We were raised here when we were young. And knowing Stephanie, I could understand what Stephanie was feeling because she’s living here,” said landlord Christina Vilches.

She explained it could take about $120,000 to fix the house. “This was income for my mother,” she said. “It’s going to be hard, but thank god the most important thing is Stephanie and her children were safe. That’s the most important thing out of all this, they were safe.”

The rooms have been damaged by smoke. Memories on the walls they’ll never get back.

To make matters worse, Wilson is without a job and can stay at the Armed Forces YMCA only if there’s room.

“I’ve slept two hours since Sunday. I’m just thinking about it, I constantly shake,” explained Wilson. “You can’t put it into words what it feels like, how it feels. It’s like a nightmare that I’m trying to wake up from and I just can’t wake up.”

The family was originally from Germany and doesn’t have relatives in El Paso to help them out. Wilson also did not have renter’s insurance.

The landlord has set up an account at Chase Bank to help the displaced family. Account Information: Chase Bank TAX EIN # 27-2662904

Stephanie B. Wilson Charitable Assistance 27-26-52-904-Number for tax purposes Routing # 111000614 Account # 896332939 Information: Stephanie B. Wilson, 915-412-3387.

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