A Bunker Hill couple described oxygen tanks exploding and flames shooting from a window as they wielded garden hoses against a fire that killed two of their neighbors on Sunday.
“When I opened the curtains and saw flames, I said, ‘Oh my God,’ ’’ Bonnie Taylor said. “The flames were so close to our house. The fire was moving so quickly. Another two or three minutes and it would have gotten to our house.”
Elaine Carol Lowry, 67, and her friend Diana Susan Hammans, 56, both died of smoke inhalation after the fire started in the room where they slept. Firefighters rescued 69-year-old Charles Mitchell just as the flames were making their way to his bedroom.
The Taylors said they have been in contact with members of Mitchell’s family, and they expect him to make a full recovery.
“The firefighters did an excellent job to get a person out,” said Chief Drew Solomon of the Millington Fire Department. “It was a high point to have saved someone from that structure.”
Solomon said the fire was caused by smoking in bed.
Neighbors Ron and Bonnie Taylor, who own the mobile home, awoke shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday to see flames shooting from Lowry’s window. They raced over and fought the fire with garden hoses.
Fire crews from Millington, Green Acres, Sumner, Hauser and Lakeside came to the scene, but Solomon said that by the time they arrived, both Hammans and Lowry were dead.
“Flames were shooting up the side of their house,” he said. “I was devastated because I knew they were inside. All I could do was try and contain it.”
Lowry rented the single-wide mobile home at 93596 Bay Park Lane, and neighbors say Hammans was a regular visitor. Mitchell, who rented a room in the mobile home, was rushed to Bay Area Hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.
“They were really caring and loving people,” neighbor Jenni Walker said.
Bonnie Taylor said Lowry was a heavy smoker, and they frequently had told her not to smoke in the house.
“This has been our worst nightmare,” she said. “That’s why we always said no smoking.”
The Taylors said the mobile home was uninsured.