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Police: Fatal fire 'potential homicide'

Wednesday's fatal fire that left two children dead in Clovis is being investigated as a possible homicide, law officers confirmed on Friday afternoon.

"The results of the initial investigation are that the fire was not caused by any of the large appliances in or near the area of the fire," a news release from Clovis police stated.

"This fire is now being investigated as a potential homicide, due to the death of the two minor children, and ruling out the appliances in the immediate area. It is unknown if the human cause for this fire is intentional or a result of neglect or an accident."

Police on Friday identified the victims as Eelija Olivia Toscano, 2, and Esmae Lily Fierro Toscano, 1. They were located deceased inside a first-floor bedroom of the residence. A third child was rescued.

Police call logs show the home where the fire occurred was the scene of a drive-by shooting about 7:45 p.m. on April 27. No report was filed in the case, records show. But Clovis Police Capt. Robbie Telles said Friday "nothing I have seen ties those together." Telles said investigators are focusing on the cause of the fire.

Clovis fire, rescue and police personnel were called to 206 Axtell St. about 9:30 Wednesday morning on report of smoke coming out of the residence.

Clovis Police Deputy Chief Trevor Thron said when personnel arrived on the scene an adult was standing on the roof of the house and personnel got information there were three children inside.

Officers reported flames coming from the bottom floor of the home, according to a police news release issued Wednesday by Telles.

Rescue workers tried to access the residence but were turned back by the fire and heavy smoke.

Telles wrote the blaze was extinguished within a matter of minutes but "sadly two young children lost their lives as a result of the fire."

A civilian was seen carrying a third child wrapped in a blanket away from the scene.

Clovis Fire Chief Mike Nolen said the third child was "a small infant" that had been inside the residence along with its parents. All three were transported to Plains Regional Medical Center for treatment of possible smoke inhalation.

Nolen said he was not sure the gender or the age of the baby. "I just know we had a tiny baby screaming its head off," he said.

"A baby crying on scene is a good indication. Usually if it's (seriously injured) by smoke inhalation, they go fairly limp."

Nolen said the baby was treated for smoke inhalation and was transported to the hospital. The child's parents rode with the infant.

"My understanding was everything went well," Nolen said.

It wasn't clear Friday if the surviving child's parents were also the parents of the deceased victims.

On scene, police had to hold back a woman who was fighting to get into the home as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze. Police did not identify the woman.

Thron said the state fire marshal is investigating the blaze. Telles said Clovis police and the region's Major Crimes Unit are also investigating.

Wednesday's fire was the second this year in Clovis in which multiple people died.

A Jan. 12 fire in the 500 block of Wallace Street killed four people trapped inside.

"The loss of life is always very upsetting," Nolen said. "With all our personnel we've had our psyche groups and we do debriefings ... our crews are all handling this very well.

"Everyone here is very saddened; this was the death of not only a child, but children. But that's what our crews do. They pull themselves together and get ready for the next call so they don't drop the ball."

David Stevens of The News contributed to this report.