Smoking May Have Caused Fatal Reno Mobile Home Fire

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Unattended smoking materials appeared to play a role in a mobile home fire that killed an elderly couple and a neighbor who tried to rescue them, Reno fire officials said Monday.

An oxygen tank in the home also may have contributed to the rapid spread of the fire Saturday night, Reno Fire Department spokesman Steve Frady said.

Leora Blue-Ringseth said her husband, Jeff Ringseth, didn't hesitate when he was the flames coming from his neighbors' trailer. She said he made it to the bedside of Ted and Iris Pike before an oxygen tank apparently exploded and the home was engulfed in flames.

"I'm proud of him. I want him; but I'm very proud of him and what he did," she told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The fire also destroyed the adjacent trailer of wildlife photographer Bob Goodman, who was not home at the time.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the fires.

The Ringseths had purchased their trailer from the Pikes. "He had to get Ted and Iris out," Blue-Ringseth said of her husband. "Ted was recovering from a broken back. Iris had double hip replacement and was on oxygen," she said.

She thinks a loud explosion she heard and felt was an oxygen tank exploding.

On Sunday afternoon, Blue-Ringseth sat with her son in her trailer across the street, and Goodman sat in front of his burned structure. He had come back to his charred home to look for his cat, Houdini, who showed up late in the afternoon.

Although Goodman lost all of his possessions, including his camera equipment, he said it is "no big deal" compared to losses of his neighbors.

"I lost stuff," he said. "It's stuff. Not life."

Reno Fire Department spokesman Steve Frady said the Pike's home was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, and Goodman's home
also was on fire.

Both homes were destroyed and two vehicles were damaged, he said. The blazes also touched off a small brush fire that was quickly extinguished.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries. One suffered steam burns while the other fell on a nail.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)