iconic fire

Workers demolish the burned Iconic Village apartments, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2020 on North LBJ Drive. An early-morning apartment complex fire on July 20, 2019, left five residents deceased and hundreds displaced.

Three years after losing his sister to one of the deadliest fires in San Marcos history, Brian “BK” Frizzell has set out to create “Justice For Our Kids,” a documentary chronicling the haunting night of the fire and the stories of those affected by it.

Just hours before dawn on July 20, 2018, a fire engulfed the Iconic Village Apartments. The fire left 200 residents displaced, killed five people and injured several others.

The fire took the lives of Frizzell's sister, Haley, and roommate, David Angel Ortiz, along with Belinda Moats, Dru Estes and James Phillip Miranda. Frizzell's sister was staying in his bedroom while he was away, studying abroad.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the fire was arson. There is a $110,000 reward for anyone who can provide information on the individual responsible for causing the fire.

Frizzell set out to create the documentary over a year ago once his initial fundraiser on GoFundMe raised more than $6,000. He hopes the documentary detects new information from that night and helps capture the perpetrator.

“My goal is to explore the emotions of losing someone you love in such a tragic and sudden way and to present it in such a way that makes somebody who knows something feel bad enough to come forward," Frizzell says. "If [the documentary] brings peace to people, that’s awesome, but if that’s all it does, it won’t have accomplished its goal."

Frizzell is a Texas State alumnus and is one of the first to graduate from the university with a film degree. He has been working in Austin's film and T.V. industry ever since.

Nearly all of the families impacted by the fire have been interviewed for the documentary. Frizzell says one of the most difficult things families speak of is the violence of the deaths, making it hard for them to find peace.

“I know where my roommate was found; I know where my sister was found, and it wasn’t in bed. It sucks for all of us to know and try to deal with that fact that our loved ones did experience it and had to know that they were about to die,” Frizzell says.

Frizzell's longtime friend, Zachary Sutterfield, was left critically injured from the fire with burns covering 70% of his body. He escaped the burning building by jumping from a second-story balcony, which left him with a traumatic brain injury. Zachary Sutterfield admires Frizzell's dedication to sharing the stories of those impacted by the fire.

“We don’t get to see each other that often, but we still cheer each other on. He’s still my best friend; I love him so much, and I’m just immensely proud of him,” Zachary Sutterfield says. "I’m proud of him for doing this because I know how hard this is on him, to hear from the victims’ families and the survivors. I hope that we do get justice."

Zachary’s mother, Deona Jo “DJ” Sutterfield, also hopes the documentary leads to answers on the fire's origin and encourages viewers to establish fire safety awareness.

“I’m grateful that he is doing it because it is showing that there are buildings in this country that are not safe. Fire suppression systems and firewalls may have made a difference that night; I’m glad that he’s honoring the victims and survivors, but he’s also bringing awareness to building safety,” DJ Sutterfield says.

The Sutterfields take comfort in knowing Frizzell, someone both talented and completely invested in the story, is the one creating the documentary.

“The documentary has been hard on our family, but we know that it needs to be done, and we want to support [Frizzell] in every effort,” DJ Sutterfield says. "He’s a great artist. I’ve seen a couple of his things that he’s worked on, and he’s very talented, and I think he’s going to do a great job telling this story.”

Frizzell hopes to have the project completed by the end of 2021. He urges viewers to contact the ATF if they have any information leading to the perpetrator.

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