Elderly woman critically injured in Fort Worth house fire

12/26/2013 12:34 PM

12/26/2013 3:52 PM

An elderly woman was critically injured Thursday morning in a house fire that sent up smoke that firefighters spotted from about a half-mile away.

Firefighters learned later that there was a smoke detector in the house but it was not working.

The engine crew from Station 5 had responded to an alarm at John Peter Smith Hospital, which turned out to be a false alarm. They were leaving the hospital complex on South Main Street about 10:30 a.m. when they noticed smoke rising to the east and followed it to a house in the 900 block of East Maddox Avenue, said Tim Hardeman, a Fire Department spokesman.

“They were returning to the station, and they saw the smoke,” Hardeman said. “They drove this way to see if they could locate the source and they found the smoke coming from this house.”

The house is about a half-mile from the hospital but across Interstate 35W.

A young man standing outside told firefighters that his grandmother was in an upstairs bedroom, Hardeman said.

Firefighters, including Engineer Matt Schneider, who is an acting lieutenant, called for assistance from other firefighting units. The first responders then entered the house and went to the second floor to search for the woman.

“One firefighter went right, and I went to the left where I thought she was,” Schneider said. “I found her pretty quick. She was in her bed. We started pulling her out.”

The smoke was thick and black, and the radiant heat “was pretty intense,” Schneider said.

Outside, paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Schneider said.

The woman, who was burned and had inhaled smoke, was transported by MedStar to a Fort Worth hospital and was later transferred to the Parkland Memorial Hospital burn center in Dallas. She was listed in serious condition Friday morning, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

“Fire investigators determined that the fire started in a second upstairs bedroom,” Hardeman said in a news release issued Thursday afternoon. “Investigators concluded that the fire started when combustibles too close to a space heater were ignited and spread to other contents in the room.”

Investigators believe the woman lived with an adult son and grandson.

The home had one smoke detector downstairs, but it was not mounted on the wall nor did it have a battery in it, Hardeman said.

As firefighters carried planks of plywood to secure the back of the house, the grandson sat on the sidewalk nearby, looking stunned.

Staff writer Bill Miller contributed to this report.

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