Neighbors react to death of elderly woman in house fire

By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - An 89-year-old woman died Tuesday night after fire tore through her home.

Witnesses said the Alice Saulsberry ran from her home fully engulfed in flames.  Fire officials are working to make sure something like this does not happen again.

Betty Lou Brooks, a neighbor, witnessed the fire.

"It's just horrible, terrible, for a thing like that to happen," Brooks said.

Brook said she is not taking any chances.  She asked firefighters to replace the batteries in her smoke detector.

"It was making a sound like the battery was going bad," Brooks said.

Firefighters went door to door and installed smoke detectors near the house where Saulsberry was killed.

When crews arrived at the scene of the fire, Lieutenant Wayne Cook with the Memphis Fire Department said Saulsberry was in bad shape.

"We located an adult female in the front yard who had been burned over 100 percent of her body," Cook said.

Another person who reportedly lived at the home was not there during the fire.

Investigators said they are not sure if Saulsberry had a working smoke detector.  They are still trying to determine what started the blaze.

"We want to assure our residents that we are truly concerned about you and we want you to be safe," Cook said.

Brooks said she hoped the tragedy would make people more aware of the potential dangers of house fires.

"I believe it will help make people more alert," Brooks said.

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