KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Firefighters pulled two people from a duplex fire in Kalamazoo Township Thursday morning, but one of them later died at the hospital.
Authorities have not yet released the name of the 82-year-old woman who died.
The fire in the 2000 block of Sunnyside Drive, not far from Nazareth College, was reported around 10 a.m. By the time firefighters arrived, the structure was blazing.
“There was thick black smoke and flames coming out of all the front windows,” said Kalamazoo Township Fire Marshal Todd Kowalski.
Margaret Sauser, who lives next door, was awakened by her dog.
“It was amazing,” she said of the fire. “The fire just blowing out the front door and the window and you know that there’s two people inside.”
She recorded video of firefighters at work.
“All you could do at that point was pray,” she said.
Firefighters were able to pull one woman from a window. She then tried to get back inside to save her mother.
“That was probably the most heartbreaking, was watching her run back in, saying, ‘I want my mamma,'” Sauser said.
The intensity of the blaze kept firefighters from getting back inside right away. By the time they were able to get the mother, her injuries were too severe. Firefighters spent long minutes attempting to revive the victim, who was clearly burned.
“They were even doing CPR and they were pumping as they’re taking her across into the ambulance,” Sauser said.
The woman died later at the hospital. It’s unclear whether the cause of death was related to smoke inhalation or burns.
The daughter was also taken to the hospital to be checked out.
Sauser said she understands the pain the daughter feels.
“She was the caregiver, and as a caregiver myself to my husband, it’s not just somebody you love, it’s somebody you are responsible for,” Sauser said. “And the empathy you have to feel for the family — oh, Lord. I won’t soon not hear that daughter’s cries.”
The fire marshal said it appears the fire started near the living room/kitchen area. One half of the duplex was destroyed, while the other half is virtually undamaged, firefighters say.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. Preliminary investigations do not indicate anything suspicious, but no definitive determination has been made.