The crowds of people, the displays of stuffed animals, flowers and candles on the sidewalk all said one thing: The two children who died in a northwest valley house fire early Thursday morning were loved.
The candlelight vigil at 5780 N. Riley St. was held the evening after the fire killed siblings 4-year-old Cruz Flores and 2-year-old Ella Flores. Their parents, Stephanie Parriera and Anthony Flores, were still hospitalized after the early morning blaze.
Most people were sleeping in their northwest valley ranch-style houses near Ann Road and Durango Drive when smoke began wafting into the air on Riley Street on Thursday morning. A neighbor said the smell of smoke coming through his bedroom window and the sound of sirens and helicopters circling overhead roused him about 1 a.m.
“By the time we got outside, it was already underway,” said Charlie, a neighbor who didn’t give his last name.
Firefighters and Las Vegas police were dispatched to the home, where they found two adults “frantically” trying to put out the fire from the outside.
That was Anthony Flores and Stephanie Parriera. They were trying to get to their children, who were trapped inside the single-story home.
Las Vegas police were the first to arrive, and they ran into the house to rescue the children. The blaze forced them back outside.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and went in through a bedroom window.
Cruz and Ella had already died.
Both parents were taken to University Medical Center. Flores had third-degree burns and was hospitalized. Parriera, hysterical, was sedated.
Flores spoke to the vigil from UMC by cellphone. He thanked everyone for the support,and said he always wanted to give his children everything they wanted and needed. He thought he and Parriera had succeeded.
Parriera’s 14-year-old son, Ryan Parriera, also talked at the vigil, standing in front of Cruz’s mini BMX motorcycle and Ella’s doll stroller. He recalled how his younger siblings would greet him every day after school.
“We were just an awesome family,” he said, his voice breaking. “I don’t know how it’s going to work without these two.”
The children’s grandparents spoke of their play dates and adventures with Cruz and Ella.
They had them every Friday and would swim, bike and play with electric cars with the neighbors.
Stephanie’s father remembered that Ella ate only the frosting off her cookies.
“You take something that’s that fragile from you, it hurts,” he said.
Hundreds of candles were lit in memorial for the family. Some of them were arranged in the shape of a heart on the sidewalk, with Mylar balloons with Monsters Inc. movie characters and smiley faces floating above. A large photo of the children was set up in the middle of the display.
“It was always about the kids,” friend Brandie Mayden said of the family. “Everything they did, always.”
Flores owns his own business, and Parriera is a hairdresser, Mayden said.
A GoFundMe fundraising account was set up by Mayden and had raised more than $15,000 Thursday evening.
Firefighters were still investigating and had not determined the cause of the blaze by Thursday night.
The house appeared undamaged from the outside, except for a boarded-up bay window.
Colton Lochhead contributed to this report. Contact Annalise Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0391. Find her on Twitter: @annaliseporter. Contact Ricardo Torres at email@example.com and 702-383-0381. Find him on Twitter: @rickytwrites.