Couple in comas after fire

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By Jenny Hartley

Pat Brice has been praying for Helen and Ronald Wright since they were hurt in a house fire Thursday.

Brice has power of attorney for Helen, 65, and Ronald, 68, and has known the couple for about 20 years. She helps take care of the couple, and has become like a family member to them.

Brice, 53, lives about four houses away from the Wrights on Charlotte Highway. She was shocked to hear that their home caught fire Thursday about 5 p.m.

The couple made it out of the house on their own, but suffered internal burns from the smoke and extreme heat of the fire. They're both in drug-induced comas at Greenville Memorial Hospital, where they were airlifted Thursday night.

"They're not doing well at all," Brice said Saturday.

Darren Player of Lancaster County Emergency Management said the fire started in the couple's bedroom, where the two were sleeping. It may have been caused by a cigarette.

The couple had four dogs, and two escaped from the home. Two others died, Player said.

Unity, Shiloh Zion and Riverside volunteer fire departments worked the scene for more than six hours.

Player said while the fire was contained to the bedroom and bathroom area, the entire home is likely a total loss due to smoke damage.

"I doubt anything in the home is salvageable, except for maybe some pictures under glass," Player said.

The damage estimate is $85,000.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151