by: Mark Becker Updated:IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. —
Firefighters said an elderly woman has died in an early morning house fire in Iredell County Monday.
Rescue crews from West Iredell Fire Department responded to the fire on Buck Lane just after 5 a.m.
Firefighters said they found the 76-year-old woman's body in her bedroom. They said she was out of bed and that part of the roof had fallen on her.
Officials said she lived alone and Garland Cloer, the fire marshal, said investigators are focusing on how the fire started. He told Eyewitness News that the woman was a smoker who was on oxygen and that she had a heater in her bedroom.
Many of the woman's family members live nearby and some of them saw the fire.
"We looked the back of our deck and there we saw the fire, so my husband got dressed and went out," said Tammy Gregory, who is married to the victim's nephew.
By the time her husband got to the home firefighters were there, but even they were too late.
"When they got there the facility was about 3/4 of the way involved. Fire coming out of the roof, and the victim was covered in fire debris," Cloer said.
Cloer said the woman smoked and was on oxygen and they are looking at that as a possible cause for the fire.
They also are looking at a heater that she was using in the bedroom.
The SBI is also involved in the investigation.
Family members told investigators she did have a smoke detector in the home but they don't know if it was activated.
"It's like it's not real," Tammy Gregory said. "And it still doesn't seem real that her house is gone and that she's gone. It still doesn't seem real. It's terrible."
The State Bureau of Investigations is helping with the investigation.