A McMinn County woman died in her home Thursday when it went up in flames. The fire broke out around 8:30 in morning, trapping the woman inside. The home is just outside of Etowah off County Road 796.
Both Etowah and Englewood firefighters say it was a very intense fire to fight. Family members of Monica Jackson say she was just feet away from getting out her front door but did not make it out in time.
"If she had gotten to the door, the doorknobs were probably so hot she probably couldn't even have touched them," says Francis Williams.
Francis Williams is a distant relative of Monica Jackson. She says around 8:30 in the morning she heard sirens blaring past her house, heading down County Road 796.
Firefighters tried their best to knock down the flames of Jackson's home but exploding oxygen tanks were putting them in danger.
"I was heartbroken," she says. "My prayers were going out to the family, immediately, you know. I stopped to say a prayer, 'Please, let them get her out.'"
"I was coming down the highway when I seen the...you could see the smoke from over across the hill there," says Frankie Williams.
Frankie Williams is Monica's Uncle. He says word spread quickly throughout the community about the fire and he drove to the scene as fast he could.
"'Is everybody alright?' That was my first question," he says.
Williams says Monica's sister was also home at the time and managed to jump out of a window to safety. He was heartbroken to hear Monica, who was on disability, never made it out.
"A loss. A great loss," he says
"She was a really sweet girl," says Francis Williams.
As family members try to cope, investigators are working quickly to figure out the cause of the fire.
"It's just a terrible loss. It's a very close-knit community. Our hearts go out to the family and the neighbors here," says McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy.
Jackson's Uncle says he does find comfort in what he knows to be true.
"That she's with her momma in heaven," he says.
Jackson was 38 years old. Per protocol, a state arson investigator is being brought in to take a closer look at the fire.