A longtime La Plata County man and his daughter lost their home in a house fire earlier this month northeast of Oxford.
George Edwards, 61, had just sat down to watch NHRA drag racing when he looked out the window and saw a “ball of fire.” He said he opened the front door and saw a recliner chair next to the house that had caught fire.
He tried to move the chair away from the house, but when he threw it to the side, some of the fluff in the cushion blew back toward the house, adding to the fire.
“I tried to get it away from the house and couldn’t, and by the time I turned around there's a big old wall of fire,” Edwards said. “... The wind blew it right back, and I think that cushion on top was just on fire.”
The fire was reported at 2:54 p.m. Aug. 20 on La Fortune Lane, southeast of Durango. Firefighters arrived at 3:07 p.m., but by that time winds had fanned the flames and the house was beyond saving, said Brad Egger, division chief and fire marshal for Los Pinos Fire Protection District.
The fire started on the outside of the 1970s mobile home, but the cause of the blaze remains under investigation, Egger said Tuesday.
“The winds played a big factor in the fire,” Edgar said. “It pushed it from outside right toward the house, which increased the likelihood that the house caught on fire and was difficult to contain.”
Edwards said he suffered second-degree burns on his left forearm and his left calf. A friend who was in the house suffered smoke inhalation and was flown to a Denver-area hospital for treatment but has since been released, Edwards said. His daughter was unharmed.
Egger confirmed two adults were taken to Mercy Hospital for burns and smoke inhalation.
Edwards said he is living night-by-night in a Durango motel, but he is living on credit and waiting for return calls from his insurance company. His daughter is attending school during the day.
Liz Herring, a neighbor, said firefighters kept flames from spreading through the wildlands and adjacent houses during the high winds. She said Edwards has been her neighbor since the early 2000s.
“Our property borders right up against his, and so they (firefighters) had to do a lot of fire protection and stuff of our property at the time,” Herring said. “So it was kind of traumatic for everybody last week.”
Herring, who is the gymnastics coach for Edwards’ daughter, started a GoFundMe page for the family. The page, which can be found by searching “Gracie and George Edwards,” had raised $2,440 of its $10,000 goal as of Tuesday.