UPDATE: Family of fire victim mourn their loss
Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- A 42-year-old Chattanooga woman lost her life in the first fire-related fatality of the New Year.
It happened early Saturday morning on East 5th Street.
Officials say two sisters lived in the apartment home.
One survived, the other did not.
"After the accident, she moved here for doctor's care and stayed with her mother. Then she moved from her mother to her sister's house," says Thomas Myers, uncle.
Thomas Myers is talking about his niece. He and other family members came to the East 5th Street home where the 42-year-old woman lost her life early Saturday morning, gathering around her mother, in a time of need.
"My sister is taking it very hard," says Myers.
The uncle says the victim recently moved to the area from Atlanta to be close to family and recuperate from an accident that left her partially immobile.
"She was in an accident in June and it left her with a bad leg. She couldn't walk very fast or move very fast," says Myers.
Her older sister is deaf and was asleep when the fire broke out around 2:00 am, but didn't know the victim was home.
She escaped thanks to a smoke alarm strobe light. Her sister's body was later found in a bathtub.
"I guess she moved into the bathtub to get air or maybe to escape," says Myers.
From the front, you can't even tell the house caught fire.
It's divided into at least four apartments, but firefighters were able to contain the fire to the first floor.
"She was a sweet girl, always worked," says Myers.
Myers who volunteers with the Red Cross says he's still shocked by the news. For now, he's helping his younger sister make funeral arrangements and says his niece will be greatly missed.
"We'll make it, we're a strong family, we've gone through death before. By God's will we'll make it through," says Myers.
No other tenants were injured during the blaze. Fire officials say circumstances surrounding the victim's death and cause of the fire are still under investigation.