New Mexico

Fire that killed elderly woman blamed on 'electrical overuse'

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - The fire that killed a 68-year-old Las Cruces woman was accidental and electrical in nature, investigators said.

Neighbors called 911 shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, after seeing smoke coming from the home on the 1100 block of Circle Drive. Firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire within 15 minutes.

Police said firefighters found Mary Pavey, who lived alone, unresponsive in the dining area of her home. Pavey was rushed to Memorial Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

Fire investigators believe a space heater near the home's entrance was not properly plugged into a surge protector. The surge protector overheated and ignited nearby combustibles.

The fire was contained to the entryway, but smoke spread throughout the home.

Investigators believe Pavey was likely overcome by smoke.

Neighbors called 911 shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, after seeing smoke coming from the home. Firefighters arrived and had flames extinguished within 15 minutes.


The Las Cruces Fire Department recommends these safety tips:

  • Do not plug space heaters into surge protectors or extension cords.
  • Do not rely on a space heater as the sole source of heat for a home.
  • Keep space heaters a safe distance away from combustible materials.
  • Use caution when using a 3-prong to 2-prong electrical adaptor.
  • Avoid using spliced, cut or otherwise damaged power cords.
  • Follow all manufacturer instructions on electrical devices, power cords and surge protectors.
  • Regularly check on elderly family members and neighbors to ensure their welfare.

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