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Pocatello house fire under investigation, 73-year-old victim critical

On Sunday, a mother is desperately trying to get from Oregon to Pocatello after her home there erupted in flames Saturday night.

Our station was there as crews battled the blaze at 817 North Authur in Pocatello. On Sunday, our station learned 73-year-old Jack Maher is in critical condition at University Hospital in Salt Lake City.

Maher’s daughter Katherine owns the house, and her dad takes care of it while she’s away on business.

“A house is a house, that’s not important,” said Katherine Maher by phone from Oregon on Sunday “I just am worried about my dad and my nephew and figuring out what to do next.”

Katherine Maher works in Oregon most of the year. Living a distance from her second home in Pocatello is the normal, but right now she feels like she’s a million miles away.

“My kids’ dad lives in Idaho, so I go back and forth,” she explained.

She said she keeps the house to have a place to spend time with her kids while she’s in town.

“My dad was just basically living in the house for me, he needed a place to live and I don’t want my house sitting empty in-between trips,” Maher explained.

On Saturday night, the unthinkable happened. Maher said she got a call from her niece. The house at 817 North Arthur in Old Town was engulfed in flames. Her dad and nephew were inside.

“No one’s sure how he got out,” said Maher. “My nephew went out through a bedroom window and when he got out, he saw that my dad was already out.”

The Pocatello Fire Department said Maher’s nephew Joseph and her dad Jack were found lying on the front lawn. Joseph is recovering at Portneuf Medical Center, but Jack is in critical condition at the burn unit at University Hospital in Salt Lake City.

“I just want my dad to get better,” said Maher.

As Maher makes her way home from Oregon, the Pocatello Fire Department has a crew monitoring possible hotspots that may still exist inside the house.

As the fire burned Saturday night the roof of the home collapsed, making it a great possibility that there may be more flare-ups underneath collapsed roof.

The fire department also said an investigator is out asking questions and trying to determine exactly what caused this fire. No cause has yet been determined.

For Maher, the uncertainty makes Oregon seem so much further away.

“Because your imagination just thinks all the worst things,” she said through tears on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for Portneuf Medical Center has confirmed Maher’s nephew Joseph is out of surgery for some deep cuts suffered in his escape from the home. He is listed in fair condition.

The fire department said loud explosions heard by on-lookers during the fire last night were caused by Jack Maher’s medical oxygen tanks inside the home.

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