62 Year Old Merced woman died in Fire

September 13, 2009 11:07:10 AM PDT
A 62 year old Merced woman died early this morning when a fire ripped through her rental home. A neighbor on Tenaha Drive near Alpine tells Action News, a case of insomnia caused him to get up in the middle of the night and see the fire's huge orange glow. Unable to sleep at 2 AM, "Yea, it was a little warm," Bill Tweed decided to go for a dip in his pool. "I just happened to get up here and then I saw flames coming out of that back bedroom. It was huge! Huge! Just a ball of fire that was coming."

That ball of fire was raging two doors down from his Merced home on Tenaya Drive. After running inside to call 911 Tweed raced to the burning house. "I was just banging on the wall if there was anybody there. There was no sound at all; I didn't know anybody was there."

But firefighters did. Once they busted through a back door they found the 62 year old woman who rented the home, dead. Sergeant Scott Skinner with Merced Police said, "She was found close to the origin of the fire. We're not going to say exactly where yet until we determine if there's anything suspicious about this or if it was accidental."

Authorities aren't releasing the woman's name yet but they say she lived alone. Her 2 dogs escaped the flames and smoke through a doggie door. Merced's Fire Chief told Action News he's sure the fire started inside the house, but exactly what caused it still isn't clear. Firefighters are also looking into whether the home's smoke alarm ever sounded off.

Investigators don't think they're dealing with a case of arson and will wait on the autopsy to clarify what killed the woman who lived there. Sgt. Skinner said, "It could be the fire was accidently set and then once it got going it got very hot inside, smoke inhalation."

Saturday afternoon neighbors came together to help the people who rented out the home clean up and board it up.

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