May 8, 2011 5:41 PM by Andy Koen
Relatives say they are still in shock over the fire that claimed the life of an elderly man early Pueblo Sunday morning. David "Pete" Stringer, 80, was a retired Pueblo Police Officer and had been asleep in the basement of his home on Vail Avenue near City Park Saturday night when the fire started.
His daughter Pam Cummings says it appeared to firefighters that he had been trying get out but was overcome by the smoke. Granddaughter Brooke says she is still coming to grips with what happened.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet."
Firefighters suspect that there was an electrical short that started the fire in one of the walls in the basement sometime around 2:00 a.m.
Anthony Porco and his brother Gilbert Smith had just finished their shift working security nearby and saw the smoke. The ran to try and help but were overwhelmed by the smoke and flames.
"We heard somebody was down there and wee felt we had to help," Porco said.
Pam and Brooke heard about the brother's attempt to recuse their dad and grandpa and said they were grateful.
"They risked their lives to try and rescue my dad and we just thank you from the bottom of our hearts," Pam said.
Stringer was a widower and lived alone. However, some of his relatives live next door and across the street.
Deputy Pueblo Police Chief John Ercul served with Stringer early in his career. He remembers Pete working as a patrol officer and in the vice and narcotics division before being promoted as a sergeant back in patrol.
Pam says despite his age, Pete was still very involved with the Eagles Lodge and Pueblo Police Benevolent Association.
"He just took pride in Pueblo and Pueblo was his home," she said. "This is where he wanted to be."