COOLIDGE — About 100 friends and family members gathered at San Carlos Park on Thursday night to mourn the loss of Luis Alvarez and his 14-year-old daughter, Valeria Alvarez, who died after a ruptured gas line caused an explosion last weekend.
A third victim, mother Rosalina Alvarez, is currently hospitalized with severe burns.
Those who came to the vigil lit candles and said prayers for the family.
“Thank you for coming here; we appreciate the love and support from everyone,” said Eunice Salazar, Luis Alvarez’s niece. “This is a very hard time for the Alvarez family.”
Salazar said that Rosalina Alvarez was in stable condition at Maricopa Medical Center and that family was able to visit her. Mayra Yadira Alvarez, another niece, said that the victim underwent surgery to treat her burns earlier in the week.
Classmates of Valeria said they found out about her death on social media, including from videos people were posting of the explosion and subsequent blaze, which could be seen from as far away as Casa Grande. One said they learned she died in the fire on the evening news.
“I cried, I freaked out,” said a friend from elementary school who wished to remain anonymous. “It was so unexpected. She was a really nice person.”
The explosion took place at roughly 5:30 a.m. on Sunday. The gas line, which is owned by El Paso Natural Gas Co., is near Randolph Road and State Route 87.
Police and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are looking into the exact cause of the incident.
The family said they would announce a date and location for the funeral when they know details. Those looking to support the family with donations can check out their GoFundMe page.