Fire destroys Silver City home; residents 'lucky to get out'

Full story: Silver City Sun-News

A family barely escaped their burning home Sunday night after an attempt to thaw out frozen pipes set the insulation ablaze.
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1 - 14 of 14 Comments Last updated Jan 5, 2011
just concerned

Cedar Crest, NM

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#1
Jan 4, 2011
 

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I wonder if the town had done it's job and plowed the streets of all the snow, the street may have not been so icy..
Are you Kidding

Silver City, NM

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#2
Jan 4, 2011
 

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Really??? After hearing such terrible news about a family loosing everything they own you are going to blame the city for not plowing the streets? Pathetic. I am sure that there was ice and snow to begin with but I am sure that a fire truck spraying water had a lot to do with sheets of ice on the road and AROUND the property. Hmmmmmmm maybe firefighters should be issued propane torches to clear their way before going into a fire???
just saying

United States

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#3
Jan 4, 2011
 

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I feel bad about these folks losing their home, but WAKE UP PEOPLE ! She had a good job at Gila Regional, and owned an RV, but no homeowners (or renters) insurance ??! This fire didn't have to leave them with nothing.
CommonSense

Silver City, NM

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#4
Jan 4, 2011
 

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If they hadn't survived, they might have been nominated for the Darwin Awards.
CommonSense

Silver City, NM

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#5
Jan 4, 2011
 

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Are you Kidding wrote:
Really??? After hearing such terrible news about a family loosing everything they own you are going to blame the city for not plowing the streets? Pathetic. I am sure that there was ice and snow to begin with but I am sure that a fire truck spraying water had a lot to do with sheets of ice on the road and AROUND the property. Hmmmmmmm maybe firefighters should be issued propane torches to clear their way before going into a fire???
I don't think that person was insinuating a relation between the two. I'm pretty sure they were sounding off on the horrible effort the town put into cleaning the streets.
On the Sidwalk

Albuquerque, NM

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#6
Jan 4, 2011
 

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It's obviously tragic when something like this happens, but if we don't learn from the experience that tragedy threatens to become ours. When I read this story the first thing that came to me was that they hadn't properly insulated their plumbing. Pipes outside conditioned living space should be protected. This is relatively easy to do with that foam "noodle" type pipe insulation and the stuff is cheap. They also failed to keep the pipes from freezing by allowing the water to stay flowing with a slight drip at the faucet. Of course there could be all kinds of extenuating circumstances in play here, but it's also true that Silver City enjoys some of the worst construction and use of materials I've seen anywhere, which in all probability was the real culprit here. To go on, according to the Fire Marshal they were using an electric kerosene heater to defrost the pipes. These unvented open flame heaters have been banned in some states due to their extreme fire hazard and the poisonous gasses they emit. They're tricky to use, must burn only 1-K kerosene, etc. etc. Study these things carefully before you buy one. In an area where gas and electric is available off the street there's no justifiable reason to use them. They must be kept away from flammable materials; drapes, wood panel walls, furniture, etc. In this case the heater, "set the home's insulation ablaze." This strongly suggests they were not using fibreglass batt insulation, which is yet another common practice around here. Cheap as this stuff is it's amazing how many times I've seen walls stuffed with crumpled newspaper, old rags, and other such trash. If you have that stuff in your house get rid of it. "The family had no insurance." Even a minimal policy would have considerably lessened the impact of this catastrophe, but in the face of no insurance extra safety precautions would have been in order to reduce risk. Clearly that wasn't done. Lastly, the Fire Marshal admitted "we had problems with the hydrant." Hydrants are color coded based on the amount of water pressure they provide. Blue hydrants offer the highest pressure, than green, orange and lastly red, which is often considered essentially inadequate. Take a walk around your neighborhood, note how far away your house is from the nearest hydrant and note its color. The probability of saving your home directly relates to the water supply available, know where you stand. Unfortunately that's not the end of it though. The fire department regularly tests hydrants and those that are nonoperational or marginal are supposed to be marked as such. There are hydrants all over Silver City that don't work and aren't marked. As I understand it this has to do with a debate between City offices over whose responsibility it is to maintain them. Meanwhile, the fire department knows where the faulty hydrants are and so should you. Ask them. It's one thing to set out to protect your home. It's another to not know where you stand in the first place.
So Sorry

Phoenix, AZ

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#7
Jan 4, 2011
 

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Being a long ago friend of this family, I can tell you that the area that this house is in is an almost completely shaded area of the Big Ditch and does not get a lot of sunlight to help with the thaw. The house was paid off long ago, and like most other people at that point probably thought to spare the extra expense of home owners insurance. It is really sad to think that there is so little empathy left in this world that people will actually place blame on a person who just lost their entire world! Shame on you all! God bless you Thompson family. You are in my prayers. And I hope you find little "Doc" too!
Are you Kidding

Silver City, NM

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#8
Jan 4, 2011
 
CommonSense wrote:
<quoted text>
I don't think that person was insinuating a relation between the two. I'm pretty sure they were sounding off on the horrible effort the town put into cleaning the streets.
K point well taken. Then I would like to use this forum to state that I don't think that it is fair that I pay double water rates just because I live just outside of city limits. I mean come on I have to pay twice what my neighbor pays just a hundred yards down the road??........
On the sidwalk

Albuquerque, NM

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#9
Jan 4, 2011
 

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Identifying mistakes that were made for the sake of helping others understand how to prevent them is the best way to reach some element of good in a situation like this. Otherwise all we're left with is a tragedy awaiting repetition. Unfortunately it's difficult to expose those kinds of mistakes without sounding critical, but surely you must agree if the house across the street burns down next week due to the same causes we'd be facing tragedy on top of tragedy.
In this case I see no way to link the Town's paltry snow removal with the loss of this property, but nor does that mean the Town didn't do a paltry job of snow removal. As for the water rate complaint I have to agree, the waste management system for those of us in the ETJ is equally unfair, and don't even get me going on the absence of recycling out here. The hydrant malfunction though, that deserves some investigation. If it can be shown that the Town's negligence in keeping up its hydrants contributed to the total loss of this property they should be taken to task over it. Everyone of us who depend on an operational water supply at those hydrants faces the same risk.
As for this family's loss, there's no words, excuses, or damage analysis that can replace anything for them. Anyone who isn't struck with total empathy for these people must be a slug. I hope nobody read my earlier post thinking I'm just throwing stones. Truly I'm not, I feel very sorry for these folks and I'm very glad to know they were able to get out. All in all, this could have been much worse.
Pokey

Silver City, NM

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#10
Jan 4, 2011
 

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My prayers go out to the Thompsons.
yep

Silver City, NM

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Jan 4, 2011
 

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So Sorry wrote:
Being a long ago friend of this family, I can tell you that the area that this house is in is an almost completely shaded area of the Big Ditch and does not get a lot of sunlight to help with the thaw. The house was paid off long ago, and like most other people at that point probably thought to spare the extra expense of home owners insurance. It is really sad to think that there is so little empathy left in this world that people will actually place blame on a person who just lost their entire world! Shame on you all! God bless you Thompson family. You are in my prayers. And I hope you find little "Doc" too!
Prayers...just another way of talking to yourself.
SCNM

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#12
Jan 4, 2011
 

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It is truly sad that people would spend their time criticizing the family. They lost their home! Everything they own and although insurance can help, it cannot replace memories. We really should try to be more understanding and try to put ourselves in their shoes. What if that was our family would we appreciate people making such comments?
News2Me

Silver City, NM

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#13
Jan 4, 2011
 

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I'd rather die than lose my pets..what a shame! So very sad. I hope they find the dog and cat. If they didn't find remains in the burned rubble they must have run off somewhere. That's just so awful, I'm so sorry for your losses. God bless
On the Sidwalk

Albuquerque, NM

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#14
Jan 5, 2011
 

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I wonder if Habitat for Humanity could be called upon to help these people. I was down at ReStore today, what those people are charging for stuff now, they should be able to buy a whole new replacement house for the Thompsons without blinking an eye.

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