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2 girls remain in critical condition after vehicle fire at Fridley Walmart; investigation ongoing

Updated: August 07, 2019 05:44 AM

Two girls—ages 6 and 9—continue to fight for their lives at a metro area hospital Wednesday.

They were transported Tuesday morning after flames spread from a van in the Fridley Walmart parking lot to nearby vehicles. 

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RELATED: 2 girls in critical condition after being rescued from vehicle fire at Fridley Walmart; suspect arrested

The two girls were in one of the nearby vehicles while their mother was shopping in the Walmart. Authorities said the girls suffered burns all over their bodies as well as smoke inhalation.

Fridley police said 70-year-old Roberto Lino Hipolito, who drove the van that caught fire, was arrested and booked into the Anoka County Jail on probable cause negligent fires.

Hipolito's spouse was in the van when it caught fire, however, she was able to exit the vehicle before the van was fully engulfed.

Meanwhile, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has learned the van the girls were in was part of a fleet used by Universal Transit Services, Inc. The company's owner said the girls' mother worked as a driver until about a week ago and was not supposed to be driving the van. Whether she'll face any charges for leaving the girls alone in it is up to prosecutors to decide.

Five vehicles were affected by the spreading flames.

The State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

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