PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WWBT) - A woman was found dead in an overnight house fire in Prince George.
The victim has only been identified as a woman in her 50s. A man in his 70s survived the blaze.
Fire crews responded to a house fire in the 11000 block of Tar Bay Road off of Route 10 around 3:30 a.m. Thursday. When they got on scene, the home was fully engulfed in flames. Witnesses describe seeing flames shooting from the windows. A neighbor called 911.
"I heard popping and explosions," says Edward Lowe, a neighbor. "I just thought it was thunder. The heat was intense. You couldn't even get close to it."
"I went outside, it was just a big ball of fire and I saw my neighbor outside," says Jessica Wells, another neighbor. "He said he woke up with the smoke alarm. And went to the kitchen, there were flames. He tried to get out the front door. He told me his girlfriend or his friend was still in the house."
Investigators say the woman couldn't get out the front door and she probably became disoriented. Neighbors say two volunteer firefighters quickly arrived and tried to get the woman out. They broke windows and yelled, trying to get her attention.
By the time more fire crews arrived, flames were shooting out of the windows. The woman was found in an area near the kitchen and living room.
"I'm going to tell you the truth, it's the worst thing I've ever had to put up with recently," says Lowe.
He has lived on this road for more than six decades. He knows almost everyone who comes and goes including the woman who was killed.
"His girlfriend was real nice. She was a real nice person, a pretty person," he said. "This is the worst thing that could happen to anybody at anytime to lose somebody you love."
Neighbors say it's a miracle anyone survived the fire. Investigators now say a cigarette started the fire.
The Prince George County Fire Department says they're happy to visit homes to help people plan escape routes and to check their fire alarms.