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Father and son pull elderly man out of house fire following explosion

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PAGOSA SPRINGS, Colo. -- A 72-year-old man is fighting for his life in a Denver hospital after a home exploded and burst into flames in Pagosa Springs.

FOX31 spoke exclusively with a father and son who grabbed this man out of a sea of flames to try to save his life.

The son and father are two movers from about a thousand miles away in Missouri. They were working on unpacking a Pagosa Springs home near the Aspen Village subdivision behind Walmart when they heard an explosion Friday night.

“We heard and felt it and the first reaction was to run up the hill and go over there,” Trevor Schoelhamer said.

Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office says around 7 p.m., Dispatch immediately received a number of 911 calls reporting an explosion and fire at 994 Cool Pines Dr.

One of the 911 calls was made from inside the affected structure, which authorities told the Pagosa Springs Sun was a two-floor building next to the main home. The caller said there were two people inside the building during the explosion.

Schoelhamer, his father and a nearby resident heard screams and saw a sea of flames for minutes before spotting a man’s hand in the fire.

“The man’s hand popped out my dad noticed it, we ran down pulled him out of the fire to safety outside and not even a minute after the paramedics got there,” Schoelhamer said.

Schoelhamer and his son rescued 72-year-old Fred Phillips of Shreveport, Louisiana from the perimeter of the home.

Phillips had severe burns and other injuries. He was taken to Pagosa Springs Medical Center and was later flown to a Denver-area hospital via Flight for Life. He remains in critical condition.

Phillips told first responders there was still a woman inside the structure and the good Samaritans tell Fox 31 they could hear her screaming.

“We tried everything to get to her the screams were just awful,” Schoelhamer said, adding “We were circling the building looking for any kind of entryway the flames got too high and too hot, there was no way we could get to her.”

The woman’s body was located at 9:39 a.m. Saturday, according to the Pagosa Springs Sun. Shortly before 10:30 a.m., the body was turned over to the Archuleta County Coroner’s Office.

More than 20 firefighters responded to the scene Friday night.

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