Gulfport neighborhood in mourning after fatal overnight fire - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport neighborhood in mourning after fatal overnight fire

Fire officials say the fire started with faulty extension cords. (Photo source: WLOX News) Fire officials say the fire started with faulty extension cords. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Neighbors tried to save the victim, but were not able to reach her. (Photo source: WLOX News) Neighbors tried to save the victim, but were not able to reach her. (Photo source: WLOX News)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

A Gulfport neighborhood is in mourning after an overnight blaze took the life of an elderly woman on 41st Avenue.

Elester Williams remembers seeing the red glow of the inferno from his yard just down the street. Not content with sitting by and watching, Williams called 911, grabbed one of his buddies and raced to the flames.

"I went to the back window. We beat on it and beat on it. When we did get the back window, we broke the glass and she had like a bed in there. A mattress over the window," said Williams.

It was then Williams knew his actions weren't going to save his neighbor. Once the fire department extinguished the flames, firefighters rushed inside the home and found the 82-year-old homeowner. 

According to Fire Inspector Tim Regan, it didn't take long to find what sparked the fire.

"We found extension cords melted into the rug to a burned area on the wall that went to an outlet, and that painted a really clear picture of how this fire began today," said Regan. 

Regan believes the tragedy shows just how dangerous faulty cords can be.

"You should never hide them under rugs or push them under things. They're not meant to be crimped. Electricity is like water. It can be kinked and crushed. That's not good for it. It can cause a short, which subsequently leads to a fire, so it's very important," said Regan. "Make sure they're UL listed and they've got that label on there, and that you spend a little extra money on the extension cords."

According to Regan, the City of Gulfport hasn't seen a fatal house fire since 2011. The events of the night impacted the community, including Councilman Kenneth Casey, Sr.

"Everybody should be concerned about something like this. Just devastating, you know, and I can imagine how her neighbors feel, also," said Casey.

Several of the victim's neighbors heard about the blaze and had to drive by to see for themselves.

"I don't even want to think about it, because it's a hurting thing for anybody," said Aaron Wilson.

 For Williams, the memory of the early morning tragedy won't soon be forgotten.

"Trying to wake her up and see can I get to her, but, I couldn't get there," said Williams.

The scene was investigated by the Gulfport Fire Department as well as the State Fire Marshall. The identity of the victim has not been released.

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