Utah Couple in Their 70s Killed in Fire Likely Caused by Faulty, Old Christmas Lights

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Faulty Christmas tree lights are likely to blame for a fire that killed a couple in their 70s near Salt Lake City, Utah, authorities there said Friday.

The South Davis Metro Fire Department responded to a fire at a home in Woods Cross, north of Salt Lake City, about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, KTLA sister station KSTU reported.

Officials said Melba Mecham, 74, and Gary Mecham, 77, died after trying to put out the fire, likely from smoke inhalation.

When fire crews arrived, neighbors rushed to them, saying they believed the couple was still inside. Firefighters said there was almost zero visibility inside the home, with heavy black smoke pouring out of the front and rear doors.

Firefighters found the couple inside and brought them outside to medical crews, who immediately started CPR to try to save them. They later died at the hospital.

Investigators said the couple tried to use a fire extinguisher to put out the flames from an electrical fire coming from old Christmas lights on an artificial tree, KTSU reported.

The Mechams were overcome by smoke before firefighters arrived.

"Fire burns -- it's dangerous. It's the smoke that -- you take a couple breaths of that -- you don't know what kind of chemicals are coming off the furniture or the carpet, whatever products are in the house," said South Davis Metro Fire Department Chief Jeff Bassett. "A couple breaths of that will knock you unconscious. A couple more breaths of that turns to be fatal."

KTLA's Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.


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