The aftermath of the deadly July 20 fire at Iconic Village Apartments.
The aftermath of the deadly July 20 fire at Iconic Village Apartments.
Photo by Cameron Hubbard | Multimedia Editor

Today marks four months since the tragedy of the Iconic Apartment fire. In honor of the lives lost, we are republishing this story that appeared in the Aug. 27 issue. 

Kind, genuine and funny. Friends and family of the five residents lost in the fatal San Marcos apartment fire remember their loved ones as bastions of hope.

The July 20 Iconic Village and Vintage Pads apartment fire left 200 residents displaced, five residents dead, a building entirely engulfed, and several others damaged. As fire investigators began working at the scene, they recovered the bodies of the five residents: Dru Estes, Belinda Moats, Haley Frizzell, David Ortiz and James Miranda. In the weeks following, family, friends and fellow students mourned their deaths.

Dru Estes, history sophomore, had a passion for music, said Clarissa Saucedo, Estes’ friend and math junior. Estes, according to Saucedo, lived by the mantra, “if it makes you happy right now, do it” and employed a strong faith in Jesus.

“He could always make someone smile and no one could ever be mad around him,” Saucedo said. “He didn’t have a bad bone in his body. He got along with everybody and he made sure everyone he knew was okay.”

Estes pursued his love of music through his band, Apt. 216, which played concerts between Austin and San Antonio. He had a love for roller coasters and visited Six Flags often, where Saucedo frequently joined him.

Haley Frizzell, theatre sophomore, had an immense love for film, music and theatre. Frizzell was funny and goofy and always put others above herself, said friend Zach Guzman.

“She is one those people who you always hear about being taken too early,” Guzman said. “She was the funniest person who always had a smile on her face and made nothing about her. If anyone was ever feeling down, she would find a way to make them feel better, whether it was driving around listening to music or watching movies.”

Frizzell wanted to become a director and envisioned moving to New York or California to pursue her dreams. She always had friends around her and was known for creating moments in people’s lives, according to Guzman.

James Miranda was always smiling and always sought out ways to help others said girlfriend Miranda Nichols. Miranda loved his job at Discount Tire and was ultimately trying to become a store manager as part of his 10-year plan with Nichols.

“It is hard to sum up who James was as a person in words… he was an amazing, family-oriented guy,” Nichols said. “He was trying to better himself and just make a life.”

Miranda loved watching movies, with Nichols frequently joining him at The Spot. Almost every weekend, he tubed the river with his friends and loved his dog.

Belinda Moats always brought a book wherever she went and had a true love for everybody, according to her father, Tom Moats. If she wasn’t listening to One Direction or watching Korean dramas, she was talking about birds, which led to her family-coined nickname, Birdlinda.

“She didn’t have much in life but the things she had she loved,” Moats said. “She knew nothing of greed or selfishness… she was just a great person and everybody loved her.”

Belinda loved literature and wanted to live her life surrounded by books. She was taking a break from school and was saving up money to go back. In doing so, she walked a mile to work every day, but always with a smile on her face, according to Tom Moats.

David Ortiz, exercise and sports sciences junior, had a contagious laugh and smile said friend Perla Vega. Ortiz had a passion for singing and playing instruments and would often create performance videos for social media.

“He was a genuine and sweet person and probably one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” Vega said. “I am so glad I got a chance to meet one of the most amazing people.”

When not at work or at school, Ortiz enjoyed spending time with friends and family. Ortiz’s dog, Layla, was like his baby, according to Vega, and Ortiz could always be found with her.

The Honors College, who traditionally begins the semester with an open house on the first day of class, remembered the victims of the apartment fire through dramatic readings and a moment of silence.

“I think it’s important to have a time for us to come together as a community,” Heather Galloway, dean of the Honors College, said. “This was a loss for the families first and foremost, but it was also a loss for students here. One of the students has family members still here Texas State so we really wanted to mark the occasion here.” 

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