A fire at the Sikis Village Mobile Home Park on Saturday night destroyed a home and sent an elderly couple to the hospital.
The fire broke out just before 10 p.m. at 321 S. Broadway, Unit 22, and was caused by a woman who dropped a cigarette onto an overstuffed recliner, which erupted in flames, said Shawn Bittle, assistant fire chief for the Cortez Fire Protection District.
The smoker was using an oxygen tank, which likely fueled the fire.
“It is an important reminder to never smoke in bed or around flammable furniture or material,” Bittle said. “Smoking near oxygen tanks is also a dangerous combination.”
The couple evacuated immediately and were quickly transported by ambulance to Southwest Memorial Hospital. Two pet dogs were lost.
Nearby neighbors were evacuated as 16 firefighters from Cortez and Lewis-Arriola Fire Department battled the blaze for two hours. The Cortez Police Department also responded to the emergency.
Fire was shooting out of the windows, and threatened nearby vehicles, but did not spread to other structures. Explosions could be heard inside the home during the fire.
Bittle said distant access to a fire hydrant initially hampered firefighter suppression efforts. They relied on one from around the block and had to lay 800 feet of line to reach the fire.
The couple’s daughter, Tammy Lopez, said her mother was transported to a burn unit in Albuquerque. Her father was released from Southwest Memorial.
“They lost everything,” she said.