‘Screaming in terror’: teen survivor relives ordeal of Guatemala children’s shelter fire

Eight months after the fire that killed 41 girls locked in a room at an orphanage in San José Pinula, memories of the tragedy continue to haunt those seeking justice

There was so much smoke that Estefani Sotoj Hernández couldn’t see anything. But she could hear the screams as girls struggled to escape the flames that engulfed the Virgen de la Asunción children’s home.

“[The fire] was really small at first, and then it got really big and there was so much smoke,” says Estefani. “I was very afraid. Everybody was screaming in terror. You couldn’t tell what was happening to your body. It was really hot and many [of the girls] lost consciousness, others were burning.”

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