Cause still unknown in deadly San Marcos apartment fire

UPDATE – 6:18 p.m. July 23 

A fifth body has been recovered from the scene of Friday’s deadly apartment fire in San Marcos, according to a city of San Marcos press release.

The body has been transported to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office for identification. Positive identification could take more than a week.

Recovery efforts will continue until all areas are searched and cleared, according to the release.

EARLIER 

As a fourth body was recovered from the scene of a deadly fire at an off-campus student apartment complex in San Marcos, investigators remain unsure where or how the blaze began.

During a July 23 press conference, Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner said a fourth victim had been recovered in building 500 of Iconic Village Apartments, the structure that was most affected by the blaze. Five residents have been reported missing, but the investigators cannot confirm the four bodies are those of the people on that list until the victims are identified, Kistner said.

Investigators still have not determined what started the fire or where it began. Authorities plan to be on the scene until at least July 27, but the investigation could last weeks or even months after they leave, he said.

Kistner confirmed that the apartment complex was not outfitted with fire sprinklers, as it was built in 1970, which was before a San Marcos city ordinance requiring them took effect. Residents who escaped the blaze reported that the complex’s fire alarms did not go off, but authorities said they could not yet determine if the alarms were operational or not.

Texas State University Provost Eugene Bourgeois said he cannot confirm if the four victims recovered were Texas State students until the remains are identified. The university is offering resources for students, faculty and staff affected, such as emergency funds, housing referrals, counseling and help with sending absence notifications to university instructors.

“The entire Texas State family is deeply saddened,” Bourgeois said. “To the hundreds displaced by the fire, we are here to assist you in getting back to some sense of normalcy.”

On July 24, San Marcos will provide resources at the San Marcos Activity Center for all residents of the Iconic Village apartments, as well as residents of Buildings L and M at nearby Vintage Pads apartments. The temporary resource center, which will remain open until July 25, will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with organizations on-site to answer questions and provide information on assistance programs. Donations from citizens have come flooding in, officials said.

“(An event like this), it tests us, but at the same time, shows us who we really are,” said San Marcos City Manager Bert Lumbreras. “Our community has always stepped up, and this is not an exception. This is something that is always heartwarming to see.”

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