Couple Dies in Home After Old Christmas Tree Lights Malfunction

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A Utah couple has passed away after their Christmas tree caught on fire.

According to PEOPLE, Gary Mecham and his wife Melba were pronounced dead at a nearby hospital when neighbors noticed their house was on fire. The South David Metro Fire Chief said the couple was found unconscious in a hallway in their homes, and officials immediately began CPR.

“The smoke became so great that it rendered them unconscious,” Jeff Bassett said. “And they couldn’t make it out.”

Although an autopsy report hasn’t been released, it is believed the couple died from smoke inhalation. The fire was caused by old Christmas lights on their tree and flames caught onto multiple gifts and logs sitting near the fireplace. “They encountered quite a bit of fire, but it kept smoldering and off-gassing,” he said.

“Every time there is a fire, the smoke that is produced from items in our houses … There’s numerous things that create toxic gases in the smoke and that’s what really renders people unconscious.”

The couple’s fire and carbon monoxide alarms that were “both activated and working,” and that there was no damage to the basement. Bassett said the fire damage was “minimal.".

“The damage was $50,000, obviously not counting the loss of life.”