A routine card game became a life or death situation when a fire broke out at a west-side home on Friday afternoon.

Cousins Joan Lujan, Gail Morrison and Kathy Kneeland were enjoying a quiet afternoon by the fire, playing card games about 2:30 p.m. at the Melvin Street home they share. When one of them added another log to the wood stove and closed the door, it sparked an explosion, shooting out flames that set the wall and curtains on fire. As the flames quickly spread, one of the cousins called 911 while the other two focused their attention on Vera Barber, their 87-year-old aunt who also lives at the home. As she is bound to a wheelchair, there was no way for the elderly cousins to get her out of the burning house other than to drag her.

“We all fell to the floor trying to move her, but we did it,” said Lujan, who added that they were surprised at how fast the fire started.

Firefighters were a few blocks away and arrived on scene within two minutes of the call. The backside of the house was fully engulfed by then, but took only 23 minutes to contain. In total, the home sustained up to $150,000 worth of damage, not including the possessions the family lost to the blaze.

No one was injured and the four women will stay with family for the time being.