Family patriarch dies in house fire (video)

Bianca Montes By Bianca Montes

Aug. 9, 2013 at 3:09 a.m.
Updated Aug. 10, 2013 at 3:10 a.m.

PORT LAVACA - Domingo Ybarra was the type of man whom everyone loved, his son Joe Ybarra said.

Outside of the Shell gas station on Broadway Street, Joe Ybarra watched the home he'd lived in for the past 21 years buckle under the weight of a caved in roof - the house, and everything in it, destroyed by fire.

"They tried to get him out," he said, tears forming in his light brown eyes. "But they couldn't. It was too late."

Domingo Ybarra, 79, died in the blaze Friday afternoon.

About 4:45 p.m. the Port Lavaca Fire Department responded to the house fire on the corner of Parker and Broadway streets, Capt. David Johnson said.

Ybarra was disabled, having lost a leg from diabetes complications and recently battled colon cancer, said his daughter Maria Flores, 53, of Port Lavaca.

"He survived that," Flores said. "He was one strong man - always laughing. Always happy."

Ybarra lived in Port Lavaca most of his life and worked various construction jobs with area industrial plants.

Family members, friends and neighbors gathered on a grassy lawn across the street and watched the firefighters continuously spray water on smoking areas, foamed water pooling on the ground around the once white house.

"There's nothing left inside," Joe Ybarra said, raising his hand to point at the charcoaled mess in front of him. "The dog is gone. The cat is gone. Everything is gone."

Neighbors said at first they did not realize there was a fire.

"I heard crackling, loud bangs," Maria Lopez, 52, said. "I thought it was gunshots. I didn't know it was a fire."

Inside the home, several rounds of ammunition had exploded in the blaze.

"At first, I thought it was fireworks," Michael Williams, 54, another neighbor, said. "And then I looked out the window and said, 'That's Joe's house.'"

Joe Ybarra, 51, and his three nieces, ages 7, 9 and 12, also lived in the home but were not there at the time of the fire.

The three girls moved in a couple of months ago after their mother died.

The Crossroads Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to the fire and took care of the family's immediate needs, said Jodi Lewis, American Red Cross emergency service specialist.

"He was the best man in the world," Lopez said about her father. "He was my hero."



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