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Memorial service planned for local couple who died in house fire before Christmas

Memorial service planned for local couple who died in house fire before Christmas
Posted at 7:50 PM, Jan 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 20:50:20-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Saxet Funeral Home, for an elderly couple who died in a house fire.

According to the Corpus Christi Fire Department, a fatal fire sparked on the evening of Dec. 16 at a home on Adams Drive.

CCFD officials said the fire started accidentally after a space heater was placed too close to a couch in the living room.

The couch caught on fire and flames spread from there.

The CCFD said there were no smoke or carbon monoxide detectors in the home. Without the devices, Delia Bocanegra Tovar and her companion, Benito Juarez, weren't warned of the fire when it sparked.

The CCFD said the couple died of carbon monoxide from the smoke.

Three other adults lived in the home, including Cynthia Vargas, Emilio Vargas and Cassarina Medina. Cynthia is Bocanegra Tovar's daughter and Emilio is Cynthia's son. Emilio said on the night of the fire, they were out of the house to go and play Bingo.

"I got a text from the neighbor across the street stating that the house was fully engulfed in flames," he said. "I had to let reality kick in. The magnitude of the fire and looking at how it looks made me realize what they had to go through in their last moments. That's painful."

"It was fast and unexpected. I just went to drop my son off for Bingo and I came back," Cynthia said. "By the time I came back, everything was in flames."

Cynthia grew up in the home at Adams Drive, and even as an adult she never strayed far from the neighborhood.

"I got married when I was 16 years old and my husband and I lived five houses down from my mom's house," she said.

As her mother grew older, Cynthia decided to move in with Bocanegra Tovar to take care of her. If it weren't for the fire, Bocanegra Tovar would've turned 91 years old on Jan. 8, which is the day her funeral is scheduled.

Since the incident, the family has been picking up the pieces and sorting through the aftermath of the devastating fire. This New Year, the family still has to figure out how to get back on their feet.

"We're starting just from the clothes that we had on that night," Emilio said. "We're putting it in God's hands."

The family said there is one reason their spirits stay strong; because of the support they received from the community. Emilio said the Red Cross helped the family on the first night of the incident, and Candlewood Suites offered a rate they could temporarily afford.

"All the prayers we've been seeing from the community, it's opened my eyes to a whole other view of my neighbors and of people. I didn't realize this aspect was still strong and still around as far as wanting to help out your fellow man," Emilio said. "Seeing a part of Corpus Christi, the embodiment of Christ, well, I see that element now and see that side of friends, family, and strangers who have offered help. I love seeing this gentle side of humanity."

Despite losing many possessions, the family also said there were a couple of items that were salvageable and they've been keeping their faith alive.

"We had all the signs that she was up in Heaven. When the Red Cross met up with us, they said the firefighters gave me this and it was a Bible. The top had smoke damage, but the rest was all intact. And to me that touched my heart," said Cynthia. "My mother, she instilled in me to be strong and take everything day-by-day and that's what I'm doing."