LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An early morning house fire claimed the life of a Lufkin woman Monday. Two other people and a dog escaped, but another dog also died.
The house fire happened in the 600 block of Humason Avenue.
Lufkin Fire Marshal Steve McCool said authorities responded to the fire around 1:40 a.m., and the house was already 75 percent involved. McCool said it originated in the kitchen and it took firefighters until 3 a.m. to extinguish the fire.
"It scared me to death. It scared me. I'm a church-loving, God-loving man, and I hate to see that happen to anybody," said next-door neighbor, Ray Thornton.
Thornton had a clear view of the fire that killed his neighbor. Around 1:30 Monday morning, he says, his wife looked out their bedroom window, as she always does before going to bed. This time, it was different.
"There was a lady that came out, I think it was the daughter, now I don't know if it was or not. She hollered real loud and crying and says my mother's inside," said Thornton.
Thornton says he watched for hours as Lufkin fire crews worked to rescue his neighbor from her Humason Avenue home, "thinking why I couldn't help her."
Authorities believe Dora Ramos died in the fire. It took firefighters until 10:15 a.m. to find her body. A DNA test will confirm her identity. While the fire is still under investigation, a lack of working smoke detectors may have played a role.
"They provide early warning of a fire. And, they increase your chances almost two times of getting out the fire safely," said Captain Jason Stuck of the Lufkin Fire Department.
A large amount of clothes, collectibles, magazines, and other flammable items in the house also provided an obstacle for rescuers.
"There was a large amount of contents in the residence that we had to go through," McCool said. "Just a lot of different clothes and magazines and keepsakes. All that made the home more explosive."
"It was stacked ceiling high, said she was a hoarder," said Thornton.
Ramos' daughter and niece managed to crawl out of a window. One dog was rescued but another died.
Thornton says this tragedy is teaching his family a valuable lesson about smoke detectors.
"It makes me go get one. Mine's gone out, but I'm going to get a new one," said Thornton.
Stuck says you should check your smoke detectors monthly, and one should be located in every room of your house. Batteries need to be replaced every six months.