86-year-old woman known as ‘Grandma Ella’ perishes in Wake Forest house fire, family says

Wake County News

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) – An 86-year-old woman known in her neighborhood as “Grandma Ella” and “Auntie Ella” perished in a house fire on Tuesday morning, family members told CBS 17.

The fire started around 3:20 a.m. at the home in the 400-block of E. Walnut Street. Crews arrived and were met with heavy smoke and fire on the front porch and the first two rooms of the home, officials said.

The fire was extinguished around 3:37 a.m.

Fire crews entered the home and found a man and woman unconscious inside. The woman has been identified by family members as Ella Virginia Smith, 86. The man found inside her home was her son, 69-year-old Lawrence Williams.

Williams was revived at the scene and then rushed to the hospital with serious injuries, fire officials said. He is currently going in and out of consciousness, family members told CBS 17.

Multiple attempts were made to revive Smith at the scene before she was transported to the hospital where she later died, according to authorities.

The 86-year-old was about to celebrate her birthday this upcoming Friday, her family said. Smith had 12 children – six boys and six girls – 10 who are still living, 72 grandchildren and 49 great-grandchildren, according to her family.

Smith had been living in her E. Walnut Street home for 60 years.

A family member who spoke with CBS 17 said she tried beating on Williams’ window to wake him up during the fire but they were unable to get him up.

Fire officials said they haven’t determined the cause of the fire yet.

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