Portales man saves wife from house fire

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — A Portales man saved his wife from a fire which destroyed the interior of their house in the early morning hours on Tuesday.

Bill Machen, 62, and Faye Machen, 58, of Portales, escaped the fire which destroyed the interior of their house at 317 E. Kaywood.

According to Portales Fire Department Battalion Chief Darwin Chenault, a smoke alarm alerted the couple to the fire. Chenault said one person was sleeping in the bedroom and the other was sleeping in the living room.

Chenault said firefighters received the call at 4:02 a.m. and arrived at the scene at 4:06 a.m. Heavy smoke was coming from the rear of the house and from the front door. There were heavy flames coming from the windows, according to the report.

Chenault credited the husband with saving the wife’s life.
“He put her in her wheel chair and they escaped the fire,” Chenault said. “I feel without a smoke alarm they could have suffered an injury or death. The smoke alarm made a big difference.”

Terisa Mays, daughter of the Machens, said her mother can’t walk. Mays said she received a call from her father at 4 a.m.

“Dad called from inside the house and said it was on fire,” Mays said. “I freaked out. I called 911 and got in my car and got over there.”

Mays said the Machens did not sustain major injuries but said they are exhausted from the fire. However, Mays said the fire killed three Chihuahua dogs.

She said her parents will be staying with her.

“I’m thankful for the smoke alarm,” Mays said. “I don’t know if they would have gotten out alive if it wasn’t for the smoke alarm.”

According to Mays, the first house built in Portales through Habitat for Humanity.

He said because the house was well-built, with sheet rock and insulation, the house remains standing. However, the fire damaged the living room and kitchen area and destroyed household items, such as couches, chairs and a radio.

Chenault continues to work on an investigation report.