LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - An early morning fire has claimed the life of an elderly East Texas woman. The fire started just after 2am at a home on Walnut Street in Longview. Investigators say 94-year-old Alla V. McCray was overcome by the smoke.
"She was a caring person, very caring," said Robert Jackson, who was like a son McCray. "She may be gone, but the things she taught me, they still live. Those values people teach you in live they stay with you."
It was inside her home alone where McCray died, trying to escape the fire.
"She had a flashlight in her hand and had exited the bedroom, and they found her right outside the bedroom," said Kenny Southwell, Longview's assistant fire chief.
Fire investigators say McCray had deadbolt locks on her doors, but it was what she didn't have, that might have saved her life.
"Smoke detectors are awesome," said Southwell. "They give you an early warning, and, apparently, we didn't have any here. [She] had burglar alarms, but no smoke detectors."
Now, McCray's family is coping with the lost of a sister born into a family of 12.
"One thing about her she was [she was] independent, and she would always help people," said Arthur Z. Brown, McCray's brother.
And, one place where she helped folks the most was at her church. On Sunday at, CME McCray seemed overjoyed.
"We were all at the same church and everybody seemed to be in a high sprit and happy," said Eva Fricks, McCray's sister. "I think it took some of the grief away knowing how happy she had been."
"She was there for Sunday school and some how or another she looked so much more different," said Jackson. "She was just new yesterday."
For McCray's family and friends, knowing who she served gives them peace of mind.
"Her soul, I know where it is," said Jackson. "I know where it is."
Investigators have ruled the fire an accident, and are looking into whether it may have been electrical. McCray's body has been sent to Tyler for an autopsy.