Elderly woman killed in Lucerne Valley house fire

LUCERNE VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- An elderly woman was killed when a fire erupted in her Lucerne Valley home, which firefighters described to be in pack-rat conditions.

The two-alarm blaze was reported around 4:30 a.m. at a single-story home in the 9800 block of Mesa Road.

Firefighters said the woman was not able to evacuate the home. The woman, who neighbors said was bedridden, was found dead in the bedroom.

Her husband was found injured outside the house. He was transported to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center to be treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

Crews also found at least a dozen dead cats inside the home.

San Bernardino fire officials said it took crews nearly 40 minutes to knock down the fire, which destroyed approximately 50 percent of the residence.

Some neighbors witnessed the fire and rushed over to help.

"Flames, big flames. I tried to look for a hose, but I couldn't find one. There was only one hose, and it was too short," said Jacoba Wilson.

Another neighbor Steve Wilson also tried to do what he could.

"I ran over there right away and tried to kick the door in. I had a water hose going, but I couldn't find him. I heard him screaming, but he happened to be already out in the bushes," he described.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. Authorities said the fire does not appear suspicious in nature.

"She was bedridden. Don married her anyway," said Maggie Roberts, a friend of the couple. "He ruined his back trying to help her. It's very sad."

It's not clear if the pack-rat conditions prevented the woman's husband from reaching her, but firefighters said it definitely made it difficult to make entry into the home.
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