The New Mexican
By Tripp Stelnicki
December 31, 2016
In the early hours of Christmas morning, Fred Vigil lost everything he had.
Fred Vigil, 68, from Santa Fe, a Vietnam Veteran who served in 1967-68, stands over the remains of his home on Friday, December 30, 2016. Vigil’s home caught on fire on Christmas. He also lost his two dogs Paco and Loca. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New MexicanA fire, possibly started by a wood burning stove, consumed Vigil’s trailer parked off Rabbit Road, just after midnight Sunday. The fire might have taken Vigil, too, were it not for a miraculously timed beer run.
Vigil, 68, was showering, unaware, as the flames spread through his home. Nearby neighbors, celebrating late on the holiday evening, noticed the blaze when one stepped outside to grab beers from a parked car. They leapt into action, broke a window to enter the fiery trailer and pulled a disoriented Vigil to safety.
Meanwhile, Vigil’s old photographs, the fatigues he wore in Vietnam and his savings burned to the ground with the rest of his trailer in a matter of minutes.
“All my worldly things,” Vigil said. “It’s all gone.”
Worse, the two beloved dogs that helped Vigil cope with post-traumatic stress disorder — Paco, a boxer, and Loca, a German shepherd — did not escape. Because they didn’t bark or otherwise react to the fire, they were victims, Vigil believes, of smoke inhalation.
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