ignited house fireFarmington, NM – An 84-year-old woman was rescued from her burning Aztec home by PNM workers Sunday night after a natural gas explosion engulfed the house in flames.
PNM declined to release the names of the PNM workers who went into the burning house to pull Harriet Smith out safely.
Smith was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center, where she was treated and released Tuesday night.
Smith’s family has planned a ceremony at 8 a.m. today at PNM’s Farmington office in honor of the workers who saved the elderly woman.
“When we did arrive on scene, PNM had already shut the gas off to the back of the house, but there was still a lot of gas fuel fueling this fire,” Aztec Volunteer Fire Engineer Gary Erlandson said. “Our concern was that we may have other residences in the area do the same thing, so we were very on edge while we were dealing with the one that was on fire.”
The fire, which originally was reported around 10:30 p.m. took about two hours and 12,000 gallons of water to contain, Erlandson said.
“There is very, very significant structural damage to the house from the explosion, which then compromised our ability to contain it to any one room,” he said. “We just couldn’t enter the structure, it was unsafe.”
As a result, the home and all its contents were declared a total loss.
“Our first priority is always life safety and since there was no one in the house at that time, my first thing was to keep my firefighters safe, which means nobody’s going in there.”
Since Sunday’s fire, PNM has located and repaired the gas leak, PNM spokeswoman Susan Sponar said.
PNM was alerted to the leak Sunday afternoon after residents reported smelling the gas.
Throughout the day Sunday PNM workers searched the 400 block of Animas Street for the source of the leak, which the company believes was caused by construction workers striking the line and not reporting it, Sponar said.
The gas company identified five homes in the area that may be affected by the gas leak. PNM workers believed no one was home in three of the five homes, but had continued to monitor the area, she said.