Elderly Couple’s Pre-Christmas Tragedy a Warning to All

An elderly couple has died after a spark from their Christmas tree lights ignited an inferno inside their Woods Cross, Utah home, a fire department official has confirmed.

South Davis Metro Fire Chief Jeff Bassett told PEOPLE on Saturday that the fire started when a strand of old lights on their Christmas tree malfunctioned. Bassett also indicated there were several wrapped presents under the tree and Duraflame logs close to a hearth. He said all of these factors contributed to the fire.

It appears the couple was attempting to escape the home. “The smoke became so great that it left them unconscious,” Bassett said. “And they couldn’t make it out.”

The couple was found unconscious in a hallway of their home, where fire officials immediately began performing CPR. The two were then rushed to an area hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

Bassett said the medical examiner hasn’t officially determined the couple’s cause of death, but fire department investigators conclude smoke inhalation was the culprit.

“Every time there is a fire, the smoke that is made from things in our houses…, there’s numerous things that create toxic gasses in the smoke and that’s what really renders folks unconscious.”

Bassett said the couple’s one-story dwelling had fire and carbon monoxide alarms that were “both activated and working.” There was no damage to the basement.

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

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