By Curt Yeomans
Clayton County fire investigators, on Friday, were trying to determine what caused a fire that may have led to the death of an elderly Jonesboro woman on Thursday night, a spokesman for the fire department said.
Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Battalion Chief Landry Merkison said firefighters responded to a fire at 563 Fieldgreen Drive, in Jonesboro, just after 10 p.m., Thursday. He said the fire was confined to a single bedroom in the home, where a woman in her sixties lived by herself.
The cause of death was not immediately available on Friday, Merkison said. The cause of the fire also had not yet been determined, he said.
"The fire was confined to just the bedroom," Merkison said. "She was [found by firefighters] on the floor, near the doorway."
Merkison said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was asked to perform an autopsy. "That tells us whether she was alive at the time of the fire," he said.
John Bankhead, a spokesman for the GBI, said in an e-mail Friday afternoon that the agency's medical examiner had completed the autopsy, and the results were going to be sent to the Clayton County Fire Department.
Bankhead deferred all other comment on the autopsy results to the fire department. Late Friday afternoon, Merkison said he did not know if the fire investigators had received the autopsy results.
Merkison said he could not confirm the identity of the woman, because he had not yet received word from fire investigators that the woman's family had been contacted.
Noemi Hernandez, who lives next door to the home where the fire occurred, said she only knew the woman who lived there by her first name. Hernandez said the woman was in her late 60s, had difficulties getting around and needed the assistance of an oxygen tank to breathe. She also described the woman as a generous person who made thoughtful gestures toward her neighbors on special occasions, such as birthdays.
"She would give my children gifts on their birthdays," said Hernandez. "She was a very nice lady."