MONROE, N.C. — Authorities are investigating after firefighters found a woman dead inside a home that was on fire in Monroe early Friday.
The woman was identified by police as Shari Shawnell Ray, 43.
Investigators said a neighbor called 911 around 12:25 a.m. after she spotted flames coming from the home on Old Charlotte Highway.
The neighbor said her boyfriend tried to get to Ray before firefighters got there, but he was too late.
“At that point, it wasn’t coming out of the entire house. It was just one window,” neighbor Gabbi Larocco said. “He actually ran down the stairs and tried to get to the house to get inside, but the moment his foot hit the front porch, the house was up in flames.”
Tommy England, who got as far as Ray's porch, said he wished he had started sooner.
“I ran all the way downstairs and made it all the way to (their) front porch,” England said. “The woman was screaming. I never heard anything like that. It was a horrible sound. I made it up to her front porch, about 2 feet from the door, before the fire, like, had drafted out the door, and it was too much”
At that moment, England said, he thought about his own family.
“I wasn't willing to run in a building, just in case, with things exploding, and I have kids upstairs,” he said. “I tried, but there was nothing I could do.”
When firefighters arrived, heavy flames were shooting from the windows of the home, which was fully engulfed.
Once they were able to knock the fire down, fire crews found Ray dead inside.
The fire marshal is investigating what started the blaze.
"You certainly never want to see anyone lose their life, especially by fire," Monroe Fire Chief Ron Fowler said. "Fortunately, this is the first fire fatality we've had in Monroe in about two years, in a little over two years, but you always hate to see that anytime."
Authorities told Channel 9 no one else was inside the home, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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