Two days after flames tore through a Denver home and killed a 47-year-old man suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, the father who had been helping to take care of him still doesn't know that his son died.
That’s because 72-year-old Ralph Andrade fell on his head while trying to escape his burning house Tuesday night, and is still struggling to make a recovery, said Andrade’s son-in-law BJ Purvis.
"He’s not out of the woods yet. He’s still fighting his way back to us," Purvis said Thursday.
Purvis said there were 5 people in the family home on West Stanford Avenue near South Kipling Street when the fire broke out downstairs.
Ralph was getting dialysis treatment on the second floor with the help of his wife, Josie, when his 21-year-old granddaughter, Lexus, screamed that there was a fire.
Lexus grabbed her 2-year-old daughter, Audra, and ran out of the house, while Josie tried to help her husband, who was very weak and using a walker. The couple couldn’t go back to the first floor because it was engulfed in flames.
"As they were trying to evacuate the house, Josie had to actually give him a shove to get him out of the house," Purvis said.
Ralph hit his head and struggled to get back up. Purvis told Denver7 that neighbors—Dennis (Henrickson) and Shauna helped the Andrade's escape from the second floor.
"I put the ladder up to window, and I tried to go up there, but the smoke was so bad that I was losing my breath and kept having to go down," Henrickson earlier told Denver7. "So I ran around front to get the firefighter's attention and when I came back they were out."
The couple's son, Ralph Andrade IV, was bedridden and immobilized on the first floor. He couldn't get out and died in the fire.
"He had M.S. (Multiple Sclerosis,) Purvis said. “His mother, Josie, had been taking care of him, giving him his medication. She refused to have him anywhere else except in their home.”
Josie, who is recovering from smoke inhalation at Swedish Medical Center, was told of her son's death yesterday.
"It was very emotional. She took it very hard," Purvis said. "They lived in this home for 38 years so to lose everything and to lose your child… and everything you at times take for granted… to know that is all gone ..."
Purvis said Ralph Andrade has not been informed because of his injuries.
"The family’s emotions are very, very high," he added.
Purvis said the family wanted to thank the firefighters and neighbors who rescued them and other "angels" who helped out by donating cash, clothing and blankets.
Denver Fire officials say two of those neighbors and a firefighter were injured during the blaze.
One of the neighbors was transported, as was the firefighter. Both were apparently treated and released.
Family members have started a GoFundMe account to raise funds for medical and other expenses.
A fund has also been set up at Bank of the West to help the family get back on their feet. It’s called the Andrade Family Fund.
Anyone wanting to help contribute household items like blankets, linens, clothing, diapers or furniture may do so at:
- Governor’s Ranch Elementary School - 5354 S. Field Street - Littleton, CO (9am til 3pm until March 1st.)
- Heritage Christian Center - 14401 E. Exposition Avenue - Aurora, CO (9am til 4pm until February 15th)
The cause of the fire is under investigation.