Josh Miller was with his girlfriend Kimberly Heinig a half block away when they saw flames at a mobile home at 235 Jicarilla Lane about 10 p.m. Sunday night.
Miller drove closer, then stopped his truck and got out. He ran to the home, which was fully involved with fire on its front end, and banged on several windows multiple times to let Miguel Carrillo and his family know their house was burning.
“It took them about 10 minutes to come out. It was pretty crazy,” Miller said. “I was scared for the people inside the house. I didn’t know there was anyone in there. There was no noise coming from the house.
“I was yelling at the windows pretty hard.”
“I was freaking out, I’m not going to lie,” Heinig said. “I was hoping they would wake up fast so they could just get away from the fire. I’m glad he stopped and he was brave enough to start banging on the windows and getting everyone out.”
Carrillo’s son, Cruz Carrillo, was the first to come out of the burning home.
“He was looking at the fire, checking it out. I was like, ‘You better go get (the other occupants),’” Miller said. “Yeah, it was pretty crazy.”
Miguel Carrillo said he was asleep when Miller started knocking on windows and his son came inside.
“They drove by and saw my home on fire,” Miguel Carrillo said. “They went in and knocked on my bedroom window and that’s how I got up and found out the house was on fire. My son was screaming (too). That woke me up also.”
While Miller was banging on the windows, he said he heard a propane tank explode.
“I was on the phone with the operator. The flames were getting bigger. I moved his truck twice,” Heinig said.
Miguel, Cruz and Cruz’s girlfriend Emma Jarvis, 18, eventually escaped through the backdoor.
“I didn’t even remember I had a fire extinguisher right in my kitchen. I was just glad to get the hell out,” Miguel Carrillo said. “It’s a miracle that he (Miller) did stop and knock on my window. He could have just drove away or drove by.”
Minutes later, the Campbell County Fire Department showed up and put the fire out, Miller said.
“I’m glad I could actually help them out,” he said. “If I didn’t pull up, who knows what would have happened?”
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Miguel Carrillo believes a space heater in the house could have started it.
The Fire Department reported that the fire appears to have started by the front porch. Flames torched the entire front side of the residence, including the yard and kennels that sit next to the porch.
It appears that the fire was burning its way back through the rest of the residence, with belongings and insulation scattered outside Monday morning.
No people were hurt in the fire. Miller even helped the family get three dogs out.
But not all of the family’s animals made it. Four cats died and a small, 7-month-old black-and-yellow female German shepherd is missing.
“We’re thinking she ran out,” Miguel Carrillo said. “We called her out, we called her and called her and she never came out. We don’t know if she is in there. We looked everywhere for her.
“We’re hoping she ran away, for her sake.”
The Campbell County Fire Department reported that firefighters were able to save some of the interior of the home.
Clothing was spared from the flames, but the fire destroyed the kitchen and living room that contained a television set, stove and refrigerator.
“They were brand new and now they are gone,” Miguel Carrillo said. “The front room and the kitchen got burnt, (they’re) toast.”
The drywall kept the fire from destroying the house, he said.
Cruz Carrillo’s car, parked near the residence, also had fire damage to the front driver’s side with the plastic on the headlight getting melted off, but it could have been worse. Miller was able to chain the car, then pull it several feet away from the fire.
“It could have blown up,” Miller said. “The car was a foot from the direct line of the fire.”
Picking up the pieces
On a snowy Monday afternoon Miguel Carrillo — wearing Carhartt overalls and a hooded sweatshirt underneath it — Cruz and Jarvis were trying to do their best to process their suddenly changed situation.
“We’re doing all right,” Jarvis said.
She then went back into the house, took garbage bags filled with personal belongings and put them into a Chevrolet pickup. Father and son then worked together to get a black safe through a window that Miguel then took and carried to the truck.
Miguel Carrillo carefully put it down before stopping to look around. The weight of the safe was nothing compared to the one Sunday night’s fire put on his shoulders.
After taking a deep breath, he went up the stairs leading to the front door, picked up a shovel and began digging up charred pieces of what was his former living room. He will try his best to continue working on the home that he rents.
“I’m going to have to do a lot of cleaning up,” he said. “It’s salvageable, but it will take a lot of work. We don’t have insurance. It’s kind of messed up.
“It hasn’t been a very good day.”
In the meantime, the Red Cross of Wyoming is helping the family with lodging and other immediate needs.
“We have to figure out if we’re going to get a motel or rent an apartment until I get this back together,” Miguel Carrillo said. “I don’t know yet. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”