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Neighbors tried to reach woman who died in Springfield house fire but smoke too thick

Neighbors who tried to help a woman escape her burning house Thursday night said they could hear her voice but the smoke was too thick to reach her, Springfield Police said. (SBG)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Neighbors who tried to help a woman escape her burning house Thursday night said they could hear her voice but the smoke was too thick to reach her, Springfield Police said.

The woma, identified by authorities as 74-year-old Clara Mae Baller, died at the scene.

Investigators said the fire started in the garage of Baller's home, but the cause is undetermined. The other 4 adults in the house got out OK.

Another 7 people lost their homes as the fire spread from the single family home on 19th and E streets to a duplex next door late Thursday night.

"When they got there they were able to get occupants out of the two buildings exposed, and occupants out of the building where the fire started," Battalion Chief Jeff Kronser said. "At this point we do have some people that suffered injuries, I don't have further that I can give you at that point on the severity of the injuries."

Firefighters were called out around 10 p.m.

There's no word yet on what started the fire. All three homes were declared a total loss.

"The cause again is under investigation," Lt. Scott McKee said at the scene late Thursday night. "There's been speculation in the neighborhood about fireworks. It is the fifth of July, it's not uncommon to have some kind of a late starting fire. But at this point I think it's premature to attribute fireworks."

DEVELOPING STORY | This story will be updated as more information becomes available

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