In a tragic incident that occurred eight months ago, three lives were lost due to an overnight fire, leaving loved ones devastated. However, the outcome might have been different if Von Ormy, a city in Texas, had its own fire station.
The frustration of a grieving family has been growing as they claim that their calls for emergency services in Von Ormy have been ignored. The incident in question took place in February, where a woman named Vanessa Ortega, aged 39, and her two young grandchildren, Mia Oyervides, aged 4, and Ezekiel Oyervides, aged 2, lost their lives in a horrifying fire that engulfed their mobile home located in the 100 block of Blue Lilly Drive.
Esmeralda Zapata, Ortega’s mother, expressed the profound impact the tragedy has had on their lives, stating, “Our lives just turned around. It’s never going to be the same.” Despite the heartbreaking nature of the incident, multiple fire departments, including the Poteet Volunteer Fire Department, Bexar County Fire Services District 5, Jourdanton Volunteer Fire Department, and Rossville Volunteer Fire Department, responded to the emergency.
According to the Atascosa County Fire Marshal, the first fire truck arrived at the scene after 13 minutes. However, this account is disputed by neighbors, such as Claudia Pasillas, who claims to have called 911 twice and waited approximately half an hour for the arrival of the fire crews. Pasillas shared her distressing experience, recounting, “At 3:30 a.m., I had to call again. Meanwhile, some neighbors from the back were helping my husband put some sand down so it wouldn’t spread to the grass. The [dispatchers] even gave me an attitude and told me, ‘Ma’am, the firefighters are already on site.’ I said, ‘No, I am here, nobody is here yet.'”
Motivated by their heartbreaking loss, the victim’s family and concerned neighbors are now advocating for the establishment of a fire station in Von Ormy. However, the responsibility for this decision lies with Atascosa County, according to Bexar County officials. Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores, who represents the precinct, explained the jurisdictional boundaries, stating, “Von Ormy the city is in Precinct 1 in Bexar County. The address [where the fatal fire happened] is actually out in Atascosa County. Jurisdictional boundaries – we don’t respond unless we get a call for support.”
Zapata expressed her frustration with Atascosa County commissioners, as she found it challenging to reach the appropriate authorities to address their concerns. Nevertheless, driven by a sense of purpose, the family remains determined not to give up. Zapata emphasized that rural residents should not be at a disadvantage when it comes to critical services, stating, “I don’t want anything like that to happen to them. You see a lot of families here today, and I want to make sure they get the response that my children should have gotten.”
The devastating loss suffered by the Ortega family and the pleas of the Von Ormy community highlight the urgent need for improved emergency services in the area. Efforts to establish a fire station in Von Ormy continue, as the community strives to ensure that no one else experiences a tragedy similar to the one that forever changed their lives.