The couple injured in Tuesday evening’s fire and explosion near the Pilot Travel Center in west Las Cruces are both said to be recovering in a Texas hospital.
The couple, a 63-year-old man and a 59-year-old woman traveling from Michigan to Arizona, were both injured in the blast. Arriving firefighters provided medical attention and quickly extinguished the fire. The two victims were initially taken to local hospitals before being transported to a burn center in Lubbock, Texas, for advanced treatment. Both victims were initially transported in critical condition. On Thursday, relatives indicated the two victims are recovering from their injuries.
Shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, Las Cruces firefighters and police were dispatched to the report of a pickup on fire in a parking lot near the Pilot Travel Center at 2681 W. Amador Ave. A police officer was first to arrive on scene and, as he approached, the fire in the back of the pickup spread to a propane tank causing it to explode.
The first-arriving police officer was approximately 20-feet from the pickup when the propane tank exploded. He escaped injury and helped extinguish flames to the woman’s clothing. No other injuries were reported.
The couple’s pickup was towing a trailer with three horses and three dogs inside. The animals were not injured. An Animal Control officer took custody of the three dogs while an inspector with the New Mexico Livestock Board found temporary shelter for the three horses.
Fire investigators believe the couple parked in a lot designated for overnight rest near the Pilot Travel Center. It appears a generator in the bed of their pickup caught fire and the couple was attempting to extinguish it when a propane tank, also in the bed of the pickup, exploded.
The cause of the generator fire is still unknown and damage estimates have yet to be determined.