Update: Second Palestine fire victim identified - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Update: Second Palestine fire victim identified

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UPDATE: Through the use of DNA testing, the deceased has been identified as, 43 year- old, Aaron Wayne Pence.

“We hate to experience a tragic loss of life, but we are relieved to be able to provide a positive identification to Mr. Pence’s family. We hope it helps bring them some closure in dealing with their loss. “ states, Wendy Ellis, City Manager.

The City of Palestine and other agencies continue with their investigation regarding the early morning blaze that occurred at 119 E. Oak on Saturday, September 28, 2013


PALESTINE, TX (KYTX) - One of two victims who died in a fire in downtown Palestine last month has been identified.

The medical examiners office used dental records to identify the deceased as Hope Leaane Pyle, nicknamed Hope Clark. She was a 32-year old female, from Palestine.

Work on identifying the second victim is on-going. Identification will take place through matching DNA records. It could still be 30 days or more before that match is confirmed. "We are saddened by the loss of life in this tragedy, but we are thankful to be making progress and hope that these efforts will bring some closure to family and friends of the victim, "states Wendy Ellis, Interim City Manager.

The City of Palestine and other agencies continue with their investigation regarding the reason for the early morning blaze that occurred at 119 E. Oak on Saturday, September 28, 2013. At this time, no determination has been made on how or where the fire started.



PALESTINE (KYTX) - Palestine fire investigators are still working to find out what started a massive building fire that claimed two lives Saturday.

CBS 19's Katiera Winfrey was told my community members that the makeup of the building may have played a role in preventing the two victims from escaping the fire.

Digging through the rubble crews found what they were looking for.

"It's pretty sad people died in a fire, that's hard on a town," said Robbie Deases, who said he saw the building while it was on fire.

The identities of the two people that died have not been released.

"I'm never gonna forget it, I'm always gonna remember what happened," said Bradley Johnson, who said he's heard about how intense the fire was from friends.

Deases said, "People were saying Palestine is on fire, and I thought what Palestine is on fire and I walked down here and I was like wow."    

Palestine wasn't on fire, but an old building on Oak Street was. For hours crews worked to get it under control as flames overtook the building, even threatening other buildings nearby.

When the fire and smoke settled, crews began searching for the two missing people. IN the process they further turned the old building into a pile of rubble.

The cause of the fire and where the victims were found has not been released, however community members said based on the makeup of the building they could see how the victims could have easily gotten trapped.

Jeremy Janz said the building is made up of multiple floors and sectioned off in small area is a living area.

Janz is familiar with the building because he once considered buying it.

 "That small space where people were staying was so tight, if you got trapped or anything happened like a fire you would be blocked in, and unfortunately that may have been what happened to these poor people," Janz said.

One building nearby had heat damage, and a church had some smoke damage. Community members said the victims were a man and a woman. The victim's remains have been sent away for an autopsy.


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