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Turning tragedy into a community service two years after deadly fire

It has been two since a mother and her two daughters were killed in an early morning apartment fire in east El Paso.

Magaly Mendoza and her daughters, Andrea and Paulina were sleeping at the Las Casitas Apartments on the 9500 block of Sims when flames broke out.

The El Paso Fire Department said an unattended skillet was one of several possible factors that sparked the fire. The investigation also revealed there were no working smoke detectors in the apartment.

Two years later, the victims’ family wants to turn their tragic loss into a service for the community.

“It’s been difficult, that’s the reality. Bereavement is a difficult process, some days are good, some days are bad,” said Michelle Cabral of her cousins’ deaths.

“You can’t really explain how it feels to lose somebody that close to you, ” said Magly’s sister, Karyna Mendoza.

On Saturday, the family will host the first ever M.A.P. Fire Awareness 5K Walk.

“Our main goal is to prevent fire-related deaths. That’s the most important thing in our community, and of course, to honor their memory,” said Cabral.

The event will include a 5K walk and fire safety classes to provided by local firefighters that will encourage families to create an evacuation plan and have working smoke detectors in their homes.

“We want to change those behaviors in families, like, ‘OK let’s practice our evacuation plan and make sure the smoke alarms are working,” Cabral said.

The M.A.P. Fire Awareness 5K is on Saturday, November 4 at 10 a.m., at the Memorial Park Reserve area. Registration is from 8:30-9:30 a.m. and admission is free.

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