"She was a sweet lady": Neighbors, friends remember woman who died in Springfield fire
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - A fire in Springfield turned fatal on Thursday night, taking the life of a woman that was trapped inside her home.
It happened around 10 p.m. on the 1900 block of E Street, and two residences plus a mother-in-law unit were destroyed in the fire.
The home is where 74-year-old Clara Baller lost her life after family members and Good Samaritans were unable to get her out in time. The damage left behind has caused Springfield Police to call it a total loss.
Earlier on Friday, our own Alex Hastenstab spoke to people who live in the neighborhood, as well as someone who lived in the house, to get eye witness accounts of the devastating fire.
"Everybody tried, we tried getting her out," said Tristan Fultorp, who is a friend of Baller's. "We tried to get her to come with us, but it was basically too late at that time."
Fulthorp remembers the terrifying fire that led to the loss of a woman that he considers family.
"She's like my grandma, and her daughter and sons don't know what to do, they're lost," said Fulthorp.
Fulthorp says that Baller because trapped in a room of the house as it was engulfed in flames. Steve Barnes called 911 when he saw smoke as he was driving in the neighborhood.
"Before I could finish my 911 call, there were flames coming out, probably 10 feet high," said Barnes.
He said the fire was coming from the garage, and it quickly spread to the next door homes and trees. Barnes helped neighbors and their pets evacuate the home while they waited for fire crews to arrive, but many people worried about the quick-spreading flames.
In total, seven people were displaced by the fire, and Hazel Hall, a neighbor, says that the home where the fire started was known to house several people.
""She was a sweet lady," said Hall. "She let anybody off the street stay there, so they had many people."
The American Red Cross is helping to find temporary housing for those who have been displaced, but the community is already stepping up to show support and offer the families help as they decide their next step.
As of now, the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Springfield Police say that they are not ruling anything out.