An Orem woman remained in critical condition Tuesday after collapsing from smoke inhalation in a house fire Monday morning.
Verena Luker, 50, 299 E. 950 South, was in the intensive care unit at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center Tuesday morning.The living room and part of the kitchen of her Orem home were gutted by the fire. Other portions of the house sustained smoke and water damage.
Luker's two grandchildren, 9-year-old Kory Ford and his 8-year-old sister, Tori, were also in the home when the fire started. Both escaped the blaze without injury. Orem public safety spokesman Gerald Nielsen said Kory ran to a neighbor's house to get help.
A neighbor returned to the house with a fire extinguisher but was unable to put out the blaze. At that time, both children and the neighbor left the house but were unable to persuade Luker to leave with them.
Kory told public safety officers at the scene that the fire started when a cigarette was dropped and caught a tissue on fire. The fire quickly spread to a pile of newspapers and then to Christmas wrapping paper and presents.