WILLIAMSON, W.Va. – Officials have released the name of the elderly woman killed in a house fire on Wilson Street early Thursday morning.
She was identified as 78 year old Betty Blackburn, whose body was recovered from her residence after the fire was extinguished.
Blackburn’s body was sent to the medical examiner’s office in Charleston, W.Va. for an autopsy and positive identification.
According to official’s Blackburn was oxygen dependent and lived alone.
The early morning fire happened at her residence on the hillside, which is located behind the old West Virginia State Police barracks in East End.
A call came into 911 at approximately 7:10 a.m. Thursday morning, the caller stated a house was on fire and someone may be inside. When the first engine arrived on scene they found the front of the structure fully engulfed in flames. The department made entry through the front and the back of the residence.
Firefighters were hindered in their efforts to extinguish the flames due to no hydrants within close proximate to the residence. In order to access a water source 1100 foot of fire hose had to be ran up an embankment to the nearest hydrant.
According to Williamson Fire Department Chief Joey Carey the initial investigation indicates the fire originated in the front area of the house in the master bedroom.
Wally Farley who lives next door said, “I saw flames and called 911, I went to the residence and tried to get in through the back door.”
Farley was unable to make entry into the residence because of the smoke being so thick and heavy. “I have known her for the past approximately 16 years and lived next door to her for about the past two years.” Said Farley.
Farley’s wife Leeli said, “There were oxygen tanks exploding and you could see the flames shooting out the windows.”
According to a neighbor the occupant of the house had been in the hospital and had just returned home yesterday evening, the neighbor also stated the deceased had multiple medical issues and lived alone.
The Williamson Fire Department responded to the call with three trucks and ten men, Chattaroy Volunteer Fire Department were called for mutual aid, they responded with a tanker, an engine and six men. Williamson City Police and STAT Ambulance Service also responded to the scene.
Kendra Mahon is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be reached at [email protected] or 304-235-4242 ext. 2278.