Alto couple dies in Thursday night trailer fire

Charles Griffin
Charles Griffin
Gladys Griffin
Gladys Griffin

ALTO, TX (KTRE) - By Donna McCollum - email

ALTO, Texas (KTRE) - An Alto couple died in a trailer fire Thursday night on Rusk Street.

According to a neighbor, the fire engulfed the home at about 11:30 p.m.

Natalie Buckingham said Charles Edward Griffin, 66, and Gladys Tyler Griffin, 61, were longtime Alto residents.

Gladys Griffin tried to help her husband, who is missing a leg, out of the house but fell in the hallway, where they died, Buckingham said.

Charles Griffin was calling for family members to help him get out of the house when they broke the window to try to help.

Jack White, who handles fire investigations for the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, said it appears the fire was started by a space heater in the living room.

Both bodies have been sent for autopsies, White said.

Charles Griffin and his wife were always the life of the party. Thanksgiving day was no different, until last night.

"When I got up I seen the blaze from the curtains," neighbor Nathaniel Buckingham said.

Buckingham ran across the street to help.

"And his son was knocking on the window trying to get 'em woke and we knocked and we knocked. We never did hear a response," Nathaniel Buckingham said.

An escape was difficult from the beginning. Charles was a diabetic with only one leg. The handicap never got in the way of the 66-year-old's daily dominoes game.


"Right there under that tree," granddaughter Kristie Woodard said. "They would sit under there every day and play dominoes from the time they got up to the time they went to sleep."

Buckingham won tournaments with his neighbor of 40 years.

"I cried all night long," he said. "It's sad, so sad to go that way, be we gotta go."

Gladys Griffin was also well-liked. Despite a bad knee, the 61-year-old loved to dance, clean and cook. She did all three on Thanksgiving day.

"Like a mom to me," Natalie Buckingham said. "Every day she'd help me, my dad with my mom and she would bring 'em dinner. She would cook. They were just wonderful people."

A granddaughter will remember her last day with her grandparents as joyful.

"We sat right out there in that shed and just all day laughed. All day," she said.

Charles was retired from his own logging business. Gladys stopped working in home health care in order to stay home and take care of her husband. Three children and numerous grandchildren remain behind.

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