"It's just unbelievable how fast you can lose your friend"

By Lakecia Shockley - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Neighbors reported hearing an explosion around 3:30 this morning on the 200 block of George Richey Road. Officials say the elderly woman who was killed, was the only one inside the home. The tragedy is Longview's first fire fatality this year.

"About 3:20am, this morning I heard this loud explosion so I got up running out looking around and I see that next door the flames are coming from the house," said Linda Bryant neighbor.

She says the explosive sound that came from her next door neighbor and good friend's home was terrifying.

"I knew my neighbor, she's an older lady that was in there," said Bryant beginning to cry.

Fire officials say the fire began in the bedroom and half the house was on fire when they arrived. Investigators combed through ashes, early Wednesday morning, looking for any clues, as to how the fire started.

"There was high suspicion that there was somebody in the residence," said Fire Chief Kenny Southwell. "There was a lady who lived here that was under medical care. Our crews began to search and attack the fire at the same time and approximately 20 minutes into the fire they did find a body and at that point it became a fatality fire. In a attempt, it looks like she went into the restroom area and that's where they found her."

Neighbors have told us the woman's name but fire officials have not released her identity pending an autopsy report. They do think they know what caused the explosion.

"There is a lot of oxygen bottles in the residence that have appeared to have ruptured and that's very common," explained the fire chief. "As a oxygen bottle heats up it will rupture and we feel that's where the explosion came from."

Now, a neighbor is left with only memories of a dear friend.

"It's just unbelievable how fast you can lose your friend," said Bryant.

The woman's body has been sent to Tyler for an autopsy report. Investigators are still looking for a cause to that fire.

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