Houston/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on March 01, 2024
Galveston Woman Killed, Three Injured in Suspected Arson House Fire, Investigation UnderwaySource: Google Street View

A tragic fire in Galveston, Texas, has taken a lethal turn into a criminal investigation after one woman was killed and three others were injured, officials said. Early reports from the FOX26 Houston detailed that the blaze, which tore through a home on the 700 block of 39th Street around 1 a.m. on Thursday, is being treated as potential arson and homicide by local fire authorities.

The Galveston Fire Department responded promptly to the emergency, witnessing three victims in the throes of the inferno scrambling to escape. The crews heroically employed a ladder to extract them from the window. Per the ABC13 coverage, they discovered an additional victim, Renita Hawthorne, 55, unconscious within the confines of the fire-engulfed domicile.

Hawthorne, later pronounced dead at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, was one of the four pulled from the house by firefighters. According to FOX26 Houston the conditions of the other three individuals, including Hawthorne's 58-year-old boyfriend and her teenage daughter who remains in the ICU, are yet to be released publicly. Another one of Hawthorne's daughters was treated and has been released from the hospital.

During the rescue operation, a firefighter was injured with a twisted knee, as revealed during a firefighting radio transmission. This firefighter has since been discharged from medical care. "Galveston Fire Chief Charlie Olsen said one firefighter was taken to the hospital with a "twisted knee" and has since been released. The extent of injuries suffered by another firefighter admitted to the hospital remains unknown. Referencing the traumatic event, Galveston Battalion Chief Tim Johnson told ABC13, "Certainly, before arrival, dispatch came back and stated that there may be some possibly trapped victims. Upon arrival, we found some victims in the delta corner of the house. They threw a ladder. They pulled three of them out."

Dog units brought to the scene indicated the presence of accelerants, prompting an arson investigation. ABC13 reports that Galveston fire investigators believe the fire was intentionally set, with an ongoing investigation into the incident. Detectives urge anyone with information to contact them at 409-765-3779 or to report tips anonymously to Galveston Crime Stoppers at 409-763-8477.