Ashland family cherishes memories of fire victim - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Ashland family cherishes memories of fire victim

ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) -

The fire was a tragic accident. Despite the efforts of an off-duty firefighter who pulled his elderly aunt from her burning home, a family mourns her loss.

Margaret Fontaine would have been 80 in just three months. She grew up on the same road where crews responded Tuesday morning. Investigators believe an electrical problem caused the fire.

Her family remembers the lovely woman who so touched their lives. Family and friends have been in and out all day comforting those who were  close to Fontaine. She was home alone when things took a tragic turn just before 6 a.m. Tuesday.

"She was happy living a simple life, just going to church, loving the Lord and just being with friends and family, watching her grand kids and great grand kids growing up. I will miss her. That's for sure," her son Ken Fontaine said.

Fighting tears, he told a story he never expected he'd have to share.

"I got a phone call from my uncle who lives next door which is her brother," he said.

He told his nephew to get there right away. Fontaine's Cheroy Road home was on fire.

"My cousin who lives two doors down is a Henrico firefighter. He was off duty and he saw the fire and was able to kick the door down. She had made it to the door but the smoke overtook her," he said.

So did the flames, leaving her with serious burns. Crews rushed her to VCU Medical Center, but she couldn't pull through.

Because this is a very rural area, there are few fire hydrants, which makes fighting fires a little challenging, but not impossible.

"One of the biggest challenges is to bring our water with us. We had several large capacity tankers that responded as well…Our tankers carry 3,000 gallons of water a piece," Hanover Fire Chief Jason Williams said.

Crews were able to get the flames under control within 45 minutes. It didn't take them long to then rule the fire was the result of a horrible accident, likely caused by an electrical problem.
 
A grieving family finds closure in the fond memories that remain of a friendly woman who would give you the shirt off of her back.

"She was a great lady," Fontaine said.

Fire investigators say there were no smoke alarms inside the home. They're reminding everyone of the importance of not only having a detector, but also making sure it works.

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