Mexico: Fire in the Dawn Sky

An inferno kills hundreds and devastates a teeming shantytown

THE DEVIL GOT UP EARLY THIS MORNING, the headline in Ovaciones said afterward. Madrugó el Diablo.

He got up at exactly 5:42 a.m., just when the coming day seems to hesitate between darkness and dawn. Suddenly a torrent of fire from an exploding gas tank surged more than 300 ft. into the sky over the Mexico City suburb of San Juan Ixhuatepec, splashing it with hellish waves of orange, yellow, red, black. The chill dawn air became searing hot.

Alberto Aquino Hernandez, 28, a truck...

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