Roommate talks about fatal Parkland Hotel fire

The roommate of a man killed in a Fresno hotel fire is talking about the desperate moments he tried to save his friend.
January 14, 2014 4:24:54 PM PST
The roommate of a man killed in a Fresno hotel fire is talking about the desperate moments he tried to save his friend.

The fire started around ten o'clock Monday night at the Parkland Hotel off Highway 99 in West Central Fresno.

Loved ones say Lee Gonzalez had faced many struggles recently. Monday night, he asked his roommate to leave because he wanted to be alone. A few hours later, the room was on fire.

Daniel Owen spent Tuesday picking through the room he shared with a friend at the Parkland Hotel. All he managed to save were few tools he uses to fix bikes and a couple blankets.

Monday night he says his roommate asked him for some space.

"Somewhere around there and he told me he wanted some time by his self and so I left," said Owen. "And then I went to the store and I came back and somebody said your room is on fire, so I ran over there."

Jeremy Osburn noticed the smoke about the same time and ran to the burning room to try and help get Eligio Lee Gonzalez out.

Osburn said, "I kicked the door open and there was, then the flames came out and I was going to go in because I heard him say help me, there's somebody in there for sure."

But the flames were growing and from what rescuers could see, everything in the studio type room was on fire. After they heard Lee holler a few times, the cries for help ended.

The fire was a sad ending to a life that Owen said was filled with troubles.

"Due to the issue of the drugs, he had demon issues," said Owen. "He thought there was demons in the room, so he would start little fires and try to chase the demons out of the room."

Friends say this, combined with depression and no job, may have been contributing factors that led Gonzalez to his breaking point.

Firefighters aren't releasing a cause of the fire, that spread and damaged three other rooms. Crews say several others who live nearby were fortunate to have made it out in time.

Family members say Gonzalez was 37 years old. Several kittens also died in the fire.


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