Family and friends of Sergio Inostros Jr., 25, Mason Mulgado, 8, and Bennet Inostros, 3, busied themselves Tuesday washing a line of vehicles outside Denair Market and taking donations to help with the funeral expenses for the three.
Amber Ortega, the sister of Sergio Inostros, said the family is grateful for all the kindness that has been bestowed on them, likening it to “little grains of sand” of comfort to cling to when the waves of grief crashes down on them.
The magnitude of their loss is hard to fathom. Sergio Inostros Jr. and the two young boys lost their lives Sunday when their Denair home went up in flames.
The fire was at a home in the 3500 block of Fresno Avenue and was reported at 1:47 a.m. Sunday.
Just prior to the fire, Sergio Inostros Jr. had gone to the Quik Stop just a couple blocks away. He got a soda and spoke briefly outside with his mother Tammarie Inostros and his fiancé Megan Mulgado, the boys’ mother. Both women work at the Quik Stop.
Ortega said it hadn’t even been a full minute after Sergio Inostros Jr. left the store that the two women noticed a glow from flames coming in the direction of the home Megan and Sergio shared with the boys.
Both women broke windows and tried to get into the home, but the smoke was already thick and the flames were spreading.
Firefighters from the Denair Fire Department arrived at the scene and were told three people were inside the home.
“Crews attempted a rescue and were able to make entry into a portion of the residence, but were forced to pull out due to heavy fire and collapsing roof,” the Denair Fire Department stated on their Facebook page.
Additional resources from around the area responded to the fire and helped extinguish the flames.
Ortega said Sergio Inostros Jr. was found atop Mason and Bennet with his arms wrapped around them.
“His last act was one of love and as a father,” Ortega said of her brother. “That shows what kind of man he was.”
Ortega said the soda was still in the cup holder of her brother’s car and that it looked as if the door had been kicked in.
“I think he ran in there and his only thought was getting to his boys,” Ortega said.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department did get reports of fireworks going off earlier that night, but an exact cause has not yet been determined. A joint investigative response from the Denair Fire Department, the Stanislaus Regional Fire Investigation Unit, and detectives with the Sheriff’s Office Crimes Against Persons Unit began to process and analyze the scene carefully.
“The cause, origin, and circumstances surrounding this triple death investigation are still active and very much on-going,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Luke Schwartz. “Arson and criminal wrongdoing do not appear to be suspected at this time; rather it seems to be a tragic and unfortunate accident.”
Sergio Inostros Jr. moved with his family to the Denair area as a young boy. For the last three years he had been working with his father, Sergio Inostros, at Gabriel and Sons Dairy in Denair.
“We worked together every day for three years,” Sergio Inostros said. “How do I go back there without my son?”
Sergio Inostros Jr. and Megan Mulgado met through his family and it wasn’t long before a friendship blossomed into love, Ortega said.
On Mother’s Day Sergio Inostros Jr. asked Megan Mulgado to become his wife.
As Sergio and Megan grew closer, so did Sergio’s relationship with Megan’s son Mason, who was 3 years old at the time the couple met.
“He loved him right away,” Ortega said of her brother. “He was going to officially adopt him and change his last name.”
The couple welcomed Bennet Inostros into their family three years ago. Sergio Inostros Jr. also has an 8-year-old daughter, Serenity, from a previous relationship.
Mason was a second grader at Denair Elementary Charter Academy who loved riding bikes, scooters and playing video games.
“Mason was such a character,” Ortega said. “He would make me laugh with some of the things he said.
“Bennet was just a ball of energy,” Ortega recalled. “He loved playing with his toy cars and monster trucks. His favorite though was his fire truck.”
Donations to help with funeral expenses are being accepted at the Quik Stop, Dollar General and Denair Market, all in Denair.
The Denair Lions are also collecting donations for the family at P.O. Box 32, Denair, Ca. 95316; care of the Mulgado family.
Those wishing to make a donation online can do so at https://gofund.me/87ce20c0.
Anyone with information about the fire can contact Sheriff’s Detective Gonzalez at 209-595-8686.