Blind woman killed in overnight house fire in Richmond

Updated: Oct. 16, 2020 at 4:49 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A blind woman is dead and a man is hurt after a fire overnight at a home in Richmond’s southside.

The fire started just before 2 a.m. Friday at a house in the 200 block of Plazaview Road., just off of East Belt Boulevard.

“When the first crew arrived, they could see heavy fire and smoke coming from the rear of the structure. Crews reported from a mile away, they could see a lot of smoke and fire,” said Richmond Fire Lieutenant Chris Armstrong.

Richmond Fire says crews arrived to find one of the tenants outside. The second tenant, a blind woman, was still inside. They add she was on the phone with dispatchers, telling them she smelled smoke, as she tried to escape the burning home, but was not able to. Firefighters were able to eventually locate her in the home and bring her outside.

“They were working on her. They were on top of her doing the chest compressions and then they took her away. I didn’t know she had perished, though,” said next-door neighbor Tara Mattox.

She feared for her neighbor, as well as her own family and home, but could only standby as firefighters did all they could to help.

“I’ve come to know them, and I’ve come to like them. It’s just unbelievable, and it happened so fast,” Mattox said about the tenants in the home.

Ultimately, firefighters say the woman died at the hospital.

“All you heard was ‘I can’t breathe’. I heard it one good time, and after that, I didn’t hear nothing else,” said neighbor Deborah Morgan.

Morgan lives two doors down and stepped out Friday morning to see fire crews blocking off the whole street, describing the smoke as “just too thick and heavy.”

She admits she didn’t know her late neighbor too well, but that her dog would occasionally run over to the house to play. Regardless, Morgan takes this tragedy as a life lesson.

“It just makes you want to get to know your neighbors: ask ‘Do you need anything?’ It’s just the little stuff that really matters,” she added.

Officials say a man in the home was able to escape the fire but suffered from smoke inhalation.

Crews are still investigating what caused the fire, but they don’t believe it to be suspicious.

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