Elderly, Disabled Woman Dies In House Fire - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/22/05-Gladewater

Elderly, Disabled Woman Dies In House Fire

An elderly East Texan dies in a house fire, unable to escape the smoke and flames. It happened just before 6:30 Sunday evening in Gregg County, at the woman's home in the 200 Block of Stuart Street in Gladewater.

Lottie Austin, 83, died in the blaze. It was just after 6:00 p.m. when neighbors of Lottie smelled smoke.

"My son opened the door and we tried to go in and we couldn't," said Ivy Stennison, a longtime neighbor of the Austin's. "We rushed down here and we looked at the door."

Neighbors reported hearing Mrs. Austin call for help, but by the time anyone made it to the home, it was too late.

"The smoke was so bad and the heat wouldn't let us get inside," said Stennison.

The 83-year-old was trapped alone inside the burning house. Her nephew had just picked her husband up for church.

"We had been gone about 10 or 15 minutes and someone come to the church and told us his house was on fire," said Freddie Wallace.

Lottie was disabled and used a walker to move around. Relatives and friends said she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis in both knees, making it difficult for her walk.

"She was a nice lady," said life-long friend Patricia Hollis. "She was a good Christian woman. She was the best friend I could ever have, she was like a mother to me."

Hollis said Lottie always put others first.

"She served a community in every kind of way. She would take the elderly people around to pay their bills and stuff like that when she was able to get around."

Investigators were back at the Austin home Monday trying to find the source of the fire. They said though they don't know the cause, they did not believe the fire was intentional. Meanwhile neighbors, family and friends remember the woman everyone knew and loved.

"She'll be missed," Ivy Stennison said.

Gladewater fire officials said they will look at the homes wires, breakers and a heater in the front bedroom. That is where the fire is believed to have started. Funeral services for Lottie Austin are pending.

Maya Golden reporting, mgolden@kltv.com  

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