• U.S.

Utah Couple Killed in Fire Sparked by Christmas Tree Lights: ‘It Puts a Hole in Your Heart’

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A Utah couple was killed Thursday night by a fire that was sparked by Christmas lights in their home.

Gary Mecham, 77, and his wife, Melba Mecham, 74, were pronounced dead at a local hospital after firefighters found them unconscious and unresponsive, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. They had lived in their Woods Cross, Utah, home for 49 years.

Neighbors mourned the loss outside the house Friday morning.

“It’s terrible it’s Christmastime,” neighbor Carl Bonner told the Tribune, “But they went together. Maybe the Lord was right there with them. It puts a hole in your heart. We’re going to miss them.”

The fire started because of malfunctioning lights on an artificial Christmas tree, and it was fueled by nearby stacks of presents and Duraflame logs for a fireplace, South Davis Metro Fire spokesman Jeff Bassett said, according to the the Deseret News.

Bassett said it appeared the couple had attempted to stop the blaze with a fire extinguisher but were overcome by the smoke, the Tribune reported.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com