Woman, 66, Dies in Wheelchair as Fire Breaks Out in Bedroom
A fire in South-Central Los Angeles killed a 66-year-old wheelchair-bound woman Friday despite efforts by two neighbors to pull the victim from her burning bedroom.
She was identified as Sadie Scott, a retired railroad worker who suffered from diabetes and had had her right leg amputated. She died in her wheelchair from smoke inhalation, fire officials said.
The fire was confined to one bedroom of the house in the 3100 block of West 78th Street and was put out in less than five minutes, said Battalion Chief Michael Fulnis. His unit arrived at the scene shortly after receiving an emergency call at 9:14 a.m. Friday.
The first person to spot the smoke and flames pouring from Scott’s bedroom was Latasha Beasley, 11, who was playing in her front yard across the street from the fire. Her cries for help alerted Richard Flowers, 47, and Darryl Roberson, 27, who were nearby. Both men ran to the house.
“I started breaking windows so I could see through the smoke, and I saw her sitting in the wheelchair with her head slumped over and her back against the wall,” Flowers told firefighters. “I asked (Roberson) for assistance and we went in and pulled her out. The wheelchair was very hot and I burned my hands. . . .
“After getting her out I searched the other rooms but the house was empty.”
The fire was determined to be accidental, but it was not immediately clear how it started.
“The fire was possibly caused by the cigarettes we found all over the room,” said investigator Tim Crass. But three melted candles were also found in the victim’s bedroom, and they could have started the fire, he added. Damage was estimated at $5,000.
By noon, firefighters and investigators had left the scene and neighbors had boarded up the broken windows. One patrol car remained in front of the house waiting for Scott’s husband, Spivy, who had left minutes before the fire started to visit relatives.
“I hope he doesn’t come home,” the police officer told a neighbor. “I’d hate to tell him on a Christmas.”