CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Neighbors are mourning the loss of two young children following a house fire in east Charlotte. 

2-year-old Aranza Sanchez succumbed to her injuries sustained in the fire. Her brother, 8-year-old Alex, died from his injuries on Wednesday, per family.

Family also tells FOX 46 the children’s mother, Ana Sanchez and their 3-month-old brother remain in critical condition.

Leticia Mendez-Dominguez was also in the house when the fire started. She says she didn’t have time to get her phone or shoes – just grab her daughter and run.

The last words she heard from her sister-in-law, Sanchez, was her yelling for Leticia to get out of the house. She said by time she heard the smoke detectors, smoke had already filled the house. Leticia was treated in the hospital and released Wednesday afternoon.

Leticia said her husband and daughter are still in the hospital, as well as her sister-in-law and her two sons. Leticia tells FOX 46 she doesn’t believe it was a candle that started the fire. She said she thinks it was the wiring that caught fire and exploded.

The family said they’re from Guatemala. Leticia’s husband and their daughter are due to appear for an immigration hearing on Monday.

Fire officials said “an unattended candle” caused the house fire that has now killed two children, one adult and injured several other people. A total of five children and two adults were initially transported to the hospital on Wednesday for various injuries. 

The fire broke out around 12:40 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2 at a home located in the 1900 block of Academy Street. 

“Breaks my heart for the mother and father and the siblings. It tore me up. I was in tears out here with them,” Deborah Schaeffer told FOX 46 on Wednesday. She was one of the neighbors who called 911. Schaeffer said she ran out of her house to help the family.

Related: Candle blamed for house fire that killed 8-year-old boy in east Charlotte

“There was one little boy, makes me want to cry, he was laying on the ground and he was burned. I couldn’t touch him. I couldn’t do anything to help him until the ambulance got here. It was heart wrenching,” she said. 

A total of eight ambulances responded to the scene, along with a number of fire trucks within three minutes of the placed 911 call. 

There were a total of 10 people in the house, according to Charlotte Fire. Four of them had to be rescued and resuscitated, according to firefighters. 

According to CMPD, an 8-year-old boy that was inside the home was pronounced dead at Presbyterian Hospital Wednesday morning after he succumbed to severe burn injuries. The official cause of death will be released by the Medical Examiner in the coming days and/or weeks. 

Updated Structure Fire info; 1900 block of Academy St; there we’re 10 occupants inside the home at the time of the fire. Seven transported to area hospitals. Other victims were able to get out and they are with family.

— Charlotte Fire Dept (@CharlotteFD) January 2, 2019

According to the Charlotte Fire Department, the cause of the house fire has been determined to be accidental related to an unattended candle(s). About $120,000 in property loss has been reported including an adjacent house with damaged siding, fire officials said. 

At this time, the Charlotte Fire Department has not confirmed that the smoke detectors were indeed working inside the home. 


Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Ana Sanchez was not killed in the house fire.