by F.T. Norton, Appeal Staff Writer

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January 22, 2003
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Elderly couple homeless after blaze

A Carson City husband and wife, both 93 years old, were recovering Tuesday from minor injuries suffered in a fire that gutted their home the previous night.

Anna and Gordon Sigmon were in stable condition at Carson-Tahoe Hospital where they were under observation, daughter Peggy Geerhart said.

"They are doing pretty good and the hospital is keeping an eye on them for any respiratory problems," she said.

The Sigmons lived in the double-wide mobile home in the Cottonwood Mobile Home Park in Northeast Carson City with caregiver Debra Simms, 54.

Geerhart said her mother discovered the fire when she opened the door to Simms' room about 9:15 p.m.

A blast of heat hit Anna Sigmon in the face, singed her hair and scorched her cheeks, Geerhart said.

"She's the hero. She saved them all -- she got Debby out of there and got my dad out of there," Geerhart said.

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the rear of the 1975 mobile home, but it is uninhabitable.

Tuesday, firefighters returned to inspect the attic after sparks hidden there began to smolder.

Carson City Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan Shirey said a preliminary investigation points to a cigarette as the cause of the fire.

Neither Anna or Gordon Sigmon smoked, Geerhart said, but Simms does.

"She wasn't supposed to be smoking in the house, however," she said.

Geerhart, who said her parents celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in May, are suffering from mild dementia and need help.

She could not imagine putting her parents in an elder-care center, she said.

"They do not want that and I'd hate to force them into that," she said.

With the house now condemned, the Geerharts are trying to come up with a plan until the couple's fire insurance kicks in.

"They will stay with us for a temporarily, but we have a two-story home with no bathing facilities downstairs and it's difficult for my mom to get up and down the stairs. We are going to have to do something rather fast," she said.

Ideally, the family would like to replace the Sigmons' mobile with a new one.

"My mom loves that park and the people there look out for each other," she said.

Son-in-law Bob Geerhart said he doesn't think the insurance will cover completely the loss of bedroom furniture, clothing ruined by smoke and fire and a new mobile, but he says the family will figure it out.

"We want them to live alone and not in a care facility. They've lived alone all their lives and they deserve to stay in their home," he said.

The Sigmons were featured in the December 2001 issue of Nevada magazine. Gordon Sigmon spent 25 years working for the railroad. Anna Sigmon was an Elko County School teacher for 33 years.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jan 22, 2003 12:00AM Published Jan 22, 2003 04:05AM Copyright 2003 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.