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Mobile home fire’s elderly victim dies

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POSTED January 14, 2014 1:36 a.m.

One death resulted from Friday’s mobile home fire in East Manteca. 

Bernie Llamas, 88, died Saturday at the UC Davis Burn Center.  Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters said he received official word of her death from the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office late Monday afternoon.

Llamas and her son Richard were severely burned in the blaze that completely destroyed her mobile home in the Almond Blossom Mobile Home Park on East Yosemite Avenue just east of Highway 99 shortly before 4 a.m. Friday. Neighbor Jeanette Russell had pulled her friend away from the blazing mobile home.  Llamas and her son had made it as far as a small front walkway at the gutter with the tremendous heat of the fire at their backs.

Richard remains in the burn center in Sacramento, according to authorities. 

Chief Waters said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.  Investigators from his department along with those from San Joaquin County have been sifting through the rubble attempting to determine the cause of the fire.

The 71-year-old Russell has been cited as a heroine by neighbors for running from her adjacent mobile home located just to the north and braving the heat to reach the couple sitting on the ground near their flaming residence.  She said she had gotten up to use the bathroom when she saw the bright light outside – thinking at first it was a low flying helicopter.

When she looked out her bathroom window Russell said realized her friend’s home was ablaze. She ran between other mobile homes to reach the front of the Llamas single wide trailer.

In an open letter to the fire department, she called the firefighters her heroes. 

“Your immediate response was great,” she wrote. “The way all of you worked together as a team was amazing.  Some of you worked on putting out the fire and some worked on protecting my home and my neighbors’ homes from catching on fire.  I am thankful that our firemen are so dedicated at putting out fires and saving people’s lives.  Our firemen are like our Manteca Policemen – with each call you put your lives on the line.”

Llamas had been living at another mobile home with relatives in the park after her husband had passed away, recently returning to what she knew as their home, Russell said, noting that they had shared jewelry with each other.

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