KANNAPOLIS, N.C. - A husband and wife have died after a house fire early Monday morning in Kannapolis.
The flames broke out just before 3 a.m. at the single story house on North Ridge Avenue.
Officials said next-door neighbors called 911 around 2:37 a.m. and firefighters arrived about four minutes later.
A fire department spokesperson told Channel 9 that both victims were pulled out from the back of the house -- where most of the fire damage occurred -- and that neither had a pulse.
Firefighters were able to revive the woman, who was then taken to the hospital where she later died.
They were unable to revive the man and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Family members identified the victims as Paul and Lily McLendon. The family said they were about a year away from celebrating their 50th anniversary and the couple was in their 80s.
“(I) heard a little explosion I guess the windows, blowing out the windows,” said neighbor Terry Davis. Davis said one of those windows was where the couple typically slept.
Davis called 911 then ran next door.
“I went and tried to kick in the back door, couldn’t get in. I tried to break the windows out. Finally broke in the front door, so much fire and smoke that you couldn’t get in,” Davis said.
Davis grabbed his hose and tried dousing water on the blaze until firefighters arrived. Lily McLendon’s niece said they were more like sisters.
“So we were more like sisters instead of aunt and niece. And I called and talked with her every night. And last night, I went to sleep and when I woke I didn't call her,” said family member Rosa Saddler.
Fire investigators were on scene all morning, trying to determine how the fire started. They believe it started somewhere in the living room or den of the home.
Family and friends said they were a wonderful couple and had one daughter about 48 years old.
Paul McLendon was a retired truck driver who family members say suffered from Alzheimers. Lily McLendon was a retired mill worker known for baking delicious cakes.
Sign up for breaking news alerts, click here.