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Fort Worth woman hurt in early-morning fire

FORT WORTH -- Firefighters believe an 80-year-old woman was severely burned early Wednesday while trying to reach her husband during a house fire northwest of the city's downtown area.

But the woman's husband, who had been ill and was sleeping in another room with a hospital bed, made it out of the house, said Lt. Kent Worley, fire department spokesman.

The one-alarm fire, believed to be electrical, was reported 6:30 a.m. in the 2700 block of Weisenberger Street at the home of Jesse and Elena Sandovar, Worley said.

Elena Sandovar was in critical condition Wednesday morning at Parkland Memorial where she was taken by helicopter to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, a hospital spokeswoman said.

She was taken to Parkland with burns over 70-80 percent of her body, Worley said. Firefighters said she had first, second and third-degree burns.

"Her 81-year-old husband appears fine," Worley said. The man, however, was taken to Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital "as a precaution," Worley added.

Damage to the home was estimated at $60,000 to the structure and $30,000 to contents, Worley said.

Fire investigators could not pinpoint the exact source of the fire, but they agreed that evidence indicated that it was caused by an electrical problem in the room where the husband was sleeping.

His wife was sleeping in a bedroom, and she could have gotten out, but she "bypassed an escape route through the front room," and was overwhelmed by flames in the kitchen, Worley said.

"The assumption was she was trying to get to him," Worley said.

He also noted that the woman was reached by firefighter recruits who were in the final stages of their training and were approved for "ride-out" assignments.

"They were with the first units on scene and were the ones who pulled her out," Worley said.

The couple's pet Chihuahua was found in an open closet, but it apparently died of smoke inhalation, Worley said.

The Sandovars lived more than 50 years in the house, Worley said.

"Several FW Police Officers stopped by after hearing of the fire," he said. "They said that the couple was very active in the Citizens on Patrol (COPS) program and, whenever there was some type of community meeting, that they were the first to show up and the last to leave."