Reno Widow says Husband Tried to Help Elderly Couple

The widow of a man who died while trying to save an elderly, disabled couple from their burning mobile home says she's proud of what he did.

"I'm proud of him. I want him; but I'm very proud of him and what he did," Leora Blue-Ringseth said of her husband, Jeff Ringseth.

She said he didn't hesitate when he saw the flames at the trailer home of his neighbors, Ted and Iris Pike.

"He made it through the house to their bedside, where they found him," she told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

All three died in the Saturday night fire. Investigators said the fire appears to be linked to unattended smoking materials, and that oxygen in use in the home may have contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.

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.

The fire also destroyed the adjacent trailer of wildlife photographer Bob Goodman.

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.)