ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Investigators have determined that an Allendale Township fire that killed a 28-year-old woman and 6-year-old was set intentionally, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said.
On Monday, the medical examiner identified the woman as 28-year-old Angelica Del Villar-Garcia of Allendale. Her cause of death was asphyxia and the manner of death was ruled a suicide, the sheriff’s office said.
The child’s name, cause and manner of death remain under investigation pending toxicology results. The sheriff’s office said detectives do believe that the child is Del Villar-Garcia’s son who lived in the home with her.
The fire happened just after 6 p.m. on Saturday at a home on Mount Blanc Lane in Allendale Meadows trailer park.
“It smelled like garbage was burning,” neighbor Emily Brown remembered in the time leading up to the call. “It was snowing — I couldn’t see where that would be coming from. I came in the house. I could smell it on my clothes and in my hair. I mentioned to my kids that it smelled like something was on fire.”
Brown said panic then ensued around 6 p.m.
“I heard one of my neighbors screaming,” Brown said. “I could see (Del Villar-Garcia’s) front door’s open and there was smoke coming out.”
According to Brown, the woman in distress was Del Villar-Garcia’s sister, who had a language barrier that kept her from communicating with dispatchers, so Brown and fellow neighbor Amber Sly jumped in to help.
“I took the phone from her to talk to 911 for her,” Brown said. “She was trying to tell us that her sister and her son were in the house.”
“She was trying to get to the back bedroom, but we just kept asking her, ‘Is there anybody else in there?’ She said ‘I don’t know, I don’t know,'” Sly added.
“The 911 operator asked us to start banging on the windows to try to wake them up because we thought they were sleeping and just couldn’t hear anything,” Brown continued. “We couldn’t hear any alarms going off.”
When first responders arrived, they found the home full of smoke and Del Villar-Garcia and the child inside deceased.
“This is a terribly tragic event. Obviously, a very sad situation for the responders and for the family as well,” Ottawa County Sheriff’s Capt. Joe Sparks said.
The origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation, however, the sheriff’s office said investigators determined that the fire was intentionally set. Sparks added that Villar-Garcia and the boy are the only two people involved.
“We’re not looking for anybody else at this point,” Sparks said. “We don’t have any other information throughout the investigation that it would be anybody else, any other suspects or any other persons of interest.”
Neighbors tell us Villar-Garcia’s 6-year-old boy was a joy to have around their kids as a classmate and friend right down the street.
“My son just found a picture that he had drawn him and asked him to be his friend, that had a volcano,” Brown said. “So, it’s very tender right now in the house.”
While Brown is among the many wondering ‘Why,’ she has a message for Angelica’s family: “You have two very special angels watching over you now.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office at 616.738.4000 or Silent Observer at 877.887.4536.