Fresno Woman Dies in House Fire

October 17, 2009 12:35:22 AM PDT
An elderly Fresno woman was apparently alone in her house when the fire started. Neighbor Carlos Gonzalez saw smoke coming out of the windows. "Suddenly we saw some smoke and we went to investigate we kept calling in the house. We didn't see anybody but I knew the grandma was there ... so I kept calling and I went to the front of the house and saw more smoke ... so we called the fire department," said Gonzalez.

Firefighters were on the scene in less than four minutes. Fire Department Spokesman Gary Eberhard says because of a security door they had to smash their way into the house.

"As soon we arrived our crews made forceful entry into the home were able to contain the fire," said Eberhard.

The woman's body was discovered in a back room. She lived at the house with other family members, who were all at work. Victoria Gerardo, the victim's granddaughter was among the first to arrive at the scene.

"I don't know what happened, I just saw everything. They don't tell us anything at all." Gerardo says firefighters told her it appeared the fire may have been started by a cigarette.

Investigators won't discuss a possible cause of the fires, but said but it does not appear a crime was committed.

Family members identified the victim as Stella Hernandez. She was believed to be in her 70's.

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