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Cause of mobile home fire that killed La Plata County man is unclear

39-year-old resident died from smoke inhalation

A La Plata County man who died during a mobile home fire last week southeast of Durango suffered smoke inhalation, but the cause of the fire remains unclear.

Durango Fire Protection District responded to the fire about 9:30 p.m. June 9 at 440 County Road 232 in the Grandview area to find a manufactured home engulfed in flames. Responders took a 39-year-old man from the home to Mercy Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy this week showed the man died from smoke inhalation, said Jann Smith, La Plata County coroner. Officials believe they know the man’s identity, but Smith has been unable to make a final identification.

“He was living there alone, so no one else was there with him,” Smith said.

The Coroner’s Office is waiting on a toxicology report, expected in about six weeks, for more information about the man’s death, Smith said.

Durango Fire is investigating the incident in conjunction with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, but investigators had not determined the cause of the fire as of Friday.

“Our investigation at this point shows that the fire originated on the front porch of the mobile home. We’re still looking into what caused that fire,” said Karola Hanks, Durango fire marshal. “Then the fire penetrated the mobile home itself afterwards.”

After more than a week of trying, Smith said she has not been able to reach the man’s family.

If officials are correct about the man’s identity, they believe he has family living in California, friends in the La Plata County area and worked at Bart’s Deli in Durango, Smith said.

They need to contact family members to move forward with the case and ensure funeral arrangements are made for the man, Smith said.

“If somebody could step forward. ... We do have his workplace, and we have been speaking with them,” Smith said. “They know he does have relatives. They gave me what they knew, but it went to no end.”

The location of the fire, 440 County Road 232, is a looped road where multiple mobile homes are located. Smith was unable to provide a specific trailer number for the man’s home Friday.

Anyone who knows people living at that address should call Smith at 745-1146.

“This is kind of hanging in the air,” Smith said. “It’s at a standstill.”

smullane@durangoherald.com

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