A man was found dead Saturday after a camper fire south of Cortez, according to Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin.
The victim was identified as Eddie Dale Green, 63, of Cortez, according to Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers. Next of kin have been notified.
The fire was reported at 2:42 p.m. Saturday on East Seventh Street, south of the intersection of Sligo Street.
After the fire was extinguished, Green was found dead in the camper trailer, Nowlin said.
The camper was destroyed in the fire.
The cause of death is being investigated by the coroner, sheriff and Cortez Fire Protection District. Results of an autopsy and toxicology analysis are pending.
Nowlin said smoke inhalation and fire are the suspected causes of death. No foul play is suspected, he said.
“There was a report of an explosion, and the camper became engulfed in flames,” Nowlin said. “It looks like an accidental explosion and fire.”
A suspected cause of the fire was a rudimentary heating system that used propane gas tanks inside the camp trailer to create a flame, Nowlin said.
A witness tried to help the person inside, but the burning trailer was too hot to get to, he said.
Cortez Fire Protection District crews arrived and quickly knocked down the fire, said Chief Jay Balfour. He said windy conditions caused the fire to quickly grow.
John Longbrake, a friend and neighbor of Green’s, said, “He was a nice guy and was well-known around here. He was a mechanic and fixed things around the property.”
He said Green had recently started collecting Social Security and was building a windmill that he had hooked up to a car generator to create free energy.
Balfour and Nowlin advised the public to keep propane containers outside campers and to use properly made and vented heating systems to avoid accidental fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Camp trailer fires generally burn very quickly,” Balfour said.
He advised camp trailer owners to use an appropriate heater that it is vented outside and to keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
Balfour also reported two other recent fires.
On Jan. 3, a residence on U.S. Highway 160 south of Cortez caught fire after hot ashes discarded from a pellet stove ignited, Balfour said. The resident woke up to the living room on fire and was able to escape unharmed. Fire damage to the home was 50%, and smoke damage was 50%.On Nov. 20, an unconnected gas line that had been leaking on Empire Street caused a camper fire, Balfour said. The camper exploded after a stove was lit, he said. The occupant had stepped out before the explosion, and no injuries were reported.[email protected]