Portales resident critically burned in house fire

Pauline Johnson of Portales asked the community for prayers Thursday night while her daughter-in-law was being treated at a Lubbock hospital for burns suffered in a house fire earlier that day.

Sharon Johnson, 63, who is wheelchair bound, had to be rescued by firefighters after her home on North Avenue B caught fire Thursday morning. The fire was caused by her smoking while using oxygen to help her breathe, according to Portales Fire Chief Gary Nuckols.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune

Portales resident Sharon Johnson's home on N. Ave. B caught fire Thursday morning while she was inside. Johnson suffered third-degree burns.

Pauline Johnson said his son told her that this wife suffered third-degree burns over 60 percent of her body, mostly on the right side.

Nuckols said firefighters responded to the home in the 1000 block of North Avenue B shortly after 6:30 a.m. About 25 percent of the structure was already involved in the fire, centered in the main living area, he said.

Nuckols said Sharon Johnson was unable to escape the home on her own and firefighters had to rescue her. She was the only occupant in the home, he said.

Nuckols said the living area was heavily damaged, and the rest of the home sustained heavy smoke damage.

Firefighters secured the home and were off the scene at 9:30 a.m., Nuckols said.

Pauline Johnson said her daughter-in-law is disabled but used to work for a local restaurant for years.

She said she's not sure why her daughter-in-law would smoke while using her oxygen, but said at times she can have memory lapses. She added her daughter-in-law suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"We have no idea. We don't know if she'll make it or anything," Pauline Johnson said. "The uncertainty is worse than anything else."

She said the light of her daughter-in-law's life, other than her son, is her Chihuahua Bandit, who survived the fire.

"That's her baby, she's had him since he was a puppy," Pauline Johnson said. "If she had learned this little dog didn't make it, I'd think she'd give up trying."

Pauline Johnson says she's hoping for the best.

"We have to say a few extra prayers for her, please," she said.

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