A 9-year-old girl reported the blaze at 4630 Snead Drive. She told officials that the fire trapped her mother inside the home, Fire Department Battalion Chief John Scanlon said.
Fire department officials have not yet identified the body, stating it is too badly burned to determine whether it's a man or woman. But one family member is certain the victim is Victoria Rojas, who lived in the unit with her 9-year-old daughter.
Santa Clara police officer Mike Garcia arrived first to the duplex, police Lt. Mike Sellers said. The girl met him in the front yard and told him that her mother was trapped inside.
Flames shooting out the side of the house forced Garcia to crawl to the back of the duplex, Scanlon said. He pounded on a window, waking a couple sleeping with their infant. The adults handed the child through the window to Garcia, Scanlon said, and then Garcia helped the couple climb out the window.
As Garcia raced back to the front of the home, Sellers said, he realized the home was a duplex and that the girl's mother was still inside.
At that point fire crews rushed inside the home to fight the blaze.
Wendy Moulton, the 9-year-old girl's aunt, spoke to her niece after the fire. According to Moulton, the girl said she began shouting for her mother, who did not respond. The girlthen ran down the hall and out a side door in the kitchen. Moulton said the girl grabbed a telephone before leaving the home and called 911.
It took about 30 firefighters half an hour to declare the blaze under control, Scanlon said.
Scanlon said the 9-year-old child who reported the fire was taken to a local hospital. The girl was not injured and is now with her maternal grandmother, Moulton said. She said Rojas has two older sons.
According to neighbors the woman and her daughter had lived at the house for four years.