By Kevin Vaughan
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
A wheelchair-bound man died Sunday afternoon in a fire at his southwest Denver home that may have been sparked by a cigarette.
Firefighters answering a neighbor's call found Doug Montour, 51, in his wheelchair at the kitchen table in the ranch-style home. He had been battling multiple sclerosis and had limited mobility, fire officials and neighbors said.
"It's just so sad right before the holidays," said Kathy Gonzales, who lives next door to Montour's home at 1675 S. Wolcott Court.
Denver police Sgt. Tony Lombard said investigators found no sign of foul play and would likely conclude the fire was an accident.
Montour is survived by his wife, Claire, a grown son and daughter, and a grandchild, neighbors said.
Claire Montour was at work when a neighbor reported the fire about 1:30 p.m.
Denver fire Lt. Joe Sarconi said it appeared that the blaze started on Montour or very close to him in the kitchen. A cigarette may have been the cause, Sarconi said.
The fire, which heavily damaged the kitchen, burned onto the back patio. Neighbors who saw the flames called 911. The rest of the home sustained smoke damage.
The Montours have lived in the home for years, neighbors said.
"They're the best folks," said David Gonzales, who lives next door with his family.
On warm days, he said, Montour would be outside in his wheelchair, taking in the sunshine. Claire Montour came home often from her bookkeeping job to check on her husband.
Each Christmas, Claire Montour would take a tray of cookies to her neighbors.
December 4, 2000