ORANGEVALE, Calif. (KTXL) — A fast-moving housefire in Orangevale killed a 76-year-old woman inside her home Saturday evening despite neighbors breaking in and trying to save her.
“There was nothing we could do. The smoke was so black. It was coming out and Gary tried to go in. He couldn’t get in there,“ said Vivek, friend and next-door neighbor. “There was too much smoke. The fire was like, you could see the side of this house was steaming.”
Her next-door neighbor said the victim raised her family inside the home.
She befriended her neighbors after they moved from Ohio a few years ago. They spent many holidays together.
Vivek said they all had just shared lunch with Marie. She was going to help them set up a sewing machine and later left to cut up some sweet potatoes in her home for their dinner Saturday night.
“My friend Victor saw the flames out of the window,” Vivek said.
Vivek said his partner, Gary, who is a registered nurse, kicked the front door down.
“The smoke, it was terrible. And Victor ran to the back. I didn’t know what to do I was still on the phone with 911. I got the hose and started spraying and I could see the flames coming out of the back of the house. That was all. It went horribly bad after that,” Vivek said.
When firefighters arrived, it was already too late.
“We did find the occupant of the home, a female, who was deceased,” said Capt. Chris Vestal of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.
Investigators believe no foul play was involved. The fire started somewhere between the living space and the garage.
“Unfortunately, if there’s any kind of compromise between the garage and the living space, the fire can spread rapidly. So, we encourage everyone to make sure that that firewall is intact,” Vestal said.
Vivek said the woman lived by herself after raising her children. He described her as a licensed nurse’s assistant who was fiercely independent and even drove herself to the hospital as she was giving birth when she lived in Alaska many years ago.