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Police ID 2 dead in Coolidge house gas line break fire

Family who fought off prison escapees among victims in Coolidge explosion
Luis Alvarez and daughter Valeria
Posted at 5:25 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 11:13:41-04

COOLIDGE, AZ — Coolidge police have identified the victims in a deadly gas line explosion Sunday morning in Coolidge.

“Tragically we were able to uncover two bodies that were inside the structure, these two unconfirmed, but we believe to be the bodies of Luis Alvarez and his daughter Valeria Alvarez,” stated Mark Tercero with the Coolidge Police Department.

The Alvarez home was ripped apart during the explosion. According to Coolidge police, the gas line rupture happened about 120 yards from the Alvarez home.

“The heat is what caught the house on fire. I don’t believe there was direct contact with the flames, it was just the intense heat. The radiation of that heat just went around and just charred everything,” said Tercero.

Luis Alvarez was in his 60s according to close friends, and his daughter Valeria was just 14 years old. According to police, Luis’ wife, Rosalina Alvarez, is fighting for her life in the hospital in critical condition with severe burns to 50% of her body.

In February, the couple was at the center of another news story when they had to fight off two prison escapees who attacked them.

“Personally, it hurts, you never expect this type of news,” said Jose Guzman.

Guzman represents the organization that was helping the family with the process for a U-visa as victims of a crime.

“To me, they're heroes, if they wouldn’t have stopped those criminals who knows where they would be now,” stated Guzman.

Guzman says the family had just been approved for their U-visa, something that he said made their daughter Valeria really happy.

“She would look at them as heroes, they were heroes to her.”

The El Paso Natural Gas Company says the explosion was caused by a pipeline failure.

Coolidge police say they’re investigating it as a homicide, but just as standard protocol.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of it. Our fire investigation crew as well as the NTSB and DOT is going to fully investigate this to determine the cause.

El Paso Natural Gas Company, L.L.C. (EPNG) is a Kinder Morgan Pipeline, community members have shown some concern about how safe the area is since this pipeline was relatively close to a residence.

“I believe we’re safe, this is an isolated incident, for the past 20 years in the city we never had anything like this before,” stated Tercero.

If you would like to help the Alvarez Family visit their GoFundMe page.