Woman's dog, neighbors try to save her from fatal Alex City fire - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Woman's dog, neighbors try to save her from fatal Alexander City blaze

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Linda Woodfin died after being trapped inside this home in Alex City Sunday morning Linda Woodfin died after being trapped inside this home in Alex City Sunday morning
Linda Woodfin's dog Linda Woodfin's dog

Looking at blackened windows and charred debris at the house next door to her own, Becky Peavy is already missing her longtime friend and neighbor Linda Woodfin.

Flames tore through Woodfin's home in Alexander's City's Springhill subdivision Sunday just after 7 a.m.

Woodfin, 73, had spent the night before with family, celebrating her granddaughter's wedding.

As smoke and flames filled her house, she was trapped inside and another member of her family - her dog - tried to get her out.

"He had a hold of her and was trying to pull her out of the house when fire department got there. They let him out. He is pure white in color but when he came out, he was just gray from all the soot and ash and smoke so I gave him a bath. He's a little traumatized but he's doing fine," Peavy said. "He was very protective of her. When I'd come over, he'd stand between me and her and growl and let me know I couldn't touch her."

Deputy Chief Gary Poe with the Alexander City Fire Department said the blaze at Woodfin's home in the 900 block of Springhill Road was only in her den. 

"The fire consisted of one room. It was well involved upon our arrival. After they extinguished the fire, they discovered the fatality inside. She was not able to get out. She was just inside the rear door," he told WSFA. 

A neighbor who did not want to be interviewed or identified saw flames coming from Woodfin's house when she came out to her car to get something. She called 911 and ran to every door of the house trying to help Woodfin. Due to the fire, she couldn't get near the back door and ran to other neighbors for help until fire crews arrived. 

Neighbors say Woodfin fell asleep while smoking a cigarette. 

State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk says "the most probable cause of the fire was the misuse of smoking material." Woodfin was a heavy smoker but was not on oxygen, he said. He added that an "abundance of combustible materials in the home" also played a part in the blaze. 

"She had a chair back there that she sat in all the time because she couldn't get around real good. She's had strokes and she feel and broke her hip. She had a walker. Her health conditions kept her from being able to get out, I believe. I think when she got up from that chair, the smoke was too much for her. There was a lot of black smoke," Becky Peavy said. "There were a lot of things around her chair that were flammable like old curtains and newspapers and stuff like that.

Alexander City's Fire Chief Kem Jones says investigators are working to determine if there were working smoke detectors in the home, calling Woodfin's death a "tragic accident."

Already in 2014, there have been dozens of fire deaths in Alabama. Linda Woodfin's marks the 47th- a number Paulk says is far too high. He cited 81 fire fatalities in 2013.

He's encouraging homeowners to "make good decisions," like testing their smoke alarms to ensure they are working. He recommends smoke detectors be replaced every 10 years. As for smokers, Paulk says smoking materials need to be fully extinguished and ashes properly disposed of.  

Meanwhile, Linda Woodfin's family and friends are trying to cope with her death. She had two dogs. Her son has adopted one and Becky Peavy has adopted the other dog who tried to save her friend. 

"I'm going to give him a good home and I'm going to miss Linda. She was one of the sweetest people I ever knew. A lot of people loved her here in Alex City. She worked at the Winn Dixie, retired from there as a florist. She was a dear person. I've never heard her use a cross word. I'm going to miss her a lot. At the same time, I know she's in a better place," Peavy said.

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