By Renée Jean, Business and Tourism Reporter
Donations are pouring into a GoFundMe effort started for Tim Adams, the son of an elderly Cheyenne man who was killed in a house fire the night before Christmas Eve.
The fire began after his father, Larry Adams, crawled beneath the house to try and unfreeze some pipes with a space heater.
The space heater caught fire near the exit, trapping the 84-year-old under the house.
An autopsy report shows Larry Adams died of carbon monoxide poisoning, his son told Cowboy State Daily.
“That was a relief knowing my dad didn’t suffer,” Tim Adams said. “He didn’t get burned alive.”
Deadly Cold Snap
The unusually cold temperatures are what led to Larry Adams’ death, his son said.
“We had that big 40-degree temperature drop last week and we weren’t used to the water pipes freezing in the day like that,” he said. “Because of that, we didn’t have any of the fail-safe protocols going on for that.”
The Arctic deep freeze moved in Dec. 21 and continued the next day. Temperatures were in the negative double digits across much of Wyoming.
With the pipes still frozen Dec. 23, Larry Adams decided to crawl under the mobile home with a space heater to thaw them out.
“I wish he would have waited for me to get home,” Tim Adams said.
But his father was determined to get the job done himself in time for Christmas Eve.
After the fire started, Tim Adams said his mom called to Larry, urging him to get out from under the house.
“He said he couldn’t,” Tim Adams said. “The fire might have started where the exit was.”
After her husband said he was trapped, Susan Adams called 911 immediately, then called her son, who was at work.
“When I got there, they still hadn’t found him yet,” Tim Adams said. “We got our two dogs out, so we were fortunate with that. But we just had the clothes on our back. That’s all we had.”
Precious mementos, like the World War II photos of Uncle Dale, killed in Italy during the war, and a rare sunburst blue guitar Tim Adams had bought to play songs with all burned up in the fire, along with all the rest of their worldly possessions.
Tim Adams had been staying with his elderly parents to help them out. He has been homeless since the fire.
His niece has taken in his mother, but with a family that includes five children, she didn’t have space for her uncle as well.
Tim Adams told Cowboy State Daily he has called multiple charitable organizations seeking a little help with a hotel room or place to stay now that he’s been burned out of his home and has lost all but the clothes on his back and the vehicle he drives to work.
“They were all a wash,” he said. “They said they don’t do that. Red Cross didn’t have anything. Community Action didn’t have anything, 211 didn’t have anything.”
He thinks he has lined up an apartment, but the paperwork and background checks cannot be completed until Tuesday because of the holidays.
“I’m sitting in a parking lot right now,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.
Some friends who have a house in Cheyenne are going to let him stay until Tuesday since he has nowhere else to go.
While the situation is difficult, Tim Adams said he’s not angry about the troubles he’s facing, or the lack of help available from charitable organizations.
Instead, he’s very grateful for the community support that’s been shown through a recent GoFundMe that a family friend set up to help him and his mother. As of Friday afternoon, it had raised more than $7,200 of an overall goal of $20,000.
“There is an overwhelming response to my family’s horrible tragedy,” Adams wrote on his Facebook page. “I sincerely wish that I could respond to each one of you individually but … starting tomorrow I will be super busy with all kinds of …”
Adams goes on to say in the post that he and his mother are still in shock over the events of last week.
“At times we both break down,” Adams wrote. “We are extremely grateful for all of everyone’s kindness and generosity!!!! Jah Bless you all!!!!!! Peace and Love.”