March 20, 2006
A burning cigarette may have sparked the blaze that destroyed a Keswick home and killed the elderly couple that lived inside.
Fire marshals haven't officially ruled a cigarette was the cause but that's what family members believe happened.
They say the wife may have fallen asleep with a lit cigarette in her hand and tonight investigators released the frantic 911 call.
Caller: There's a fire on Zion Hill Road.
Operator: What's on fire?
Caller: Their house. It’s engulfed in flames. It’s Reginald Wood.
Caller: Do you know if anyone is in the house?
Caller: We don't know. My husband is going over there now…"
Family members who live in the neighborhood got there first. They did everything they could; broke windows, ran inside but they couldn't save their loved ones.
“The smoke just drove them back. They just couldn't get to them,” said The Wood’s cousin and neighbor Helen Long.
Reginald and Frances Wood lived inside the home. Cousin Helen thinks Frances got up during the night for a cigarette.
“She couldn't get around very good and a lot of times she would fall off to sleep,” said Long.
Fire marshals say the flames started near the chair where she was sitting. They say Reginald was probably in the bedroom.
“Knowing him, I'm sure he must have tried to do something but I think the smoke was probably just too overwhelming,” said Earnly Chapman, the Wood’s neighbor and best friend.
“We grew up together as family. This was very devastating when I got the news,” said Chapman.
“They loved each other, really loved each other and lived together a long time; just good people,” said Long.
The scent of fire still overwhelms the neighborhood. That will go away but the sense of loss, that's a different story.
“They just weren't able to save it, to save them and that's the hurting part of the whole situation,” said Chapman.
There were no smoke detectors in the home, which is something fire investigators say could have alerted the couple and neighbors to the fire sooner.
Fire investigators said autopsies were performed on the couple Monday but are waiting on further test results before they officially confirm that a cigarette started the blaze.