BENTON -- A woman died in a fire at her home Wednesday morning in Columbia County.
Neighbors describe it as horrifying knowing a woman was inside the burning home and couldn't get out. Neighbors heard the woman scream but firefighters were not able to rescue her from her burning house.
The deputy coroner said the woman who died in the fire was Marlene Vance and she was in her mid to late 70s. Neighbors say she used a walker and could probably not walk out by herself.
Firefighters battled heavy smoke and flames at this house on 5th Street in Benton for most of the day. Marlene Vance lived in the home with her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. She was the only one home when the fire started and did not make it out alive.
"That is horrifying because when there is no one else home and they don't know what to do, it is bad," said neighbor Bernard Hess. "It is sad, especially here at Thanksgiving time."
"It's very depressing, and like I said, right before the holidays it's horrible to lose everything," said family friend Adrianna Schaffer.
The fire started after 11 a.m. Officials are still trying to figure out what started it, but they do not believe it is suspicious.
Neighbor Isabella Hamilton heard something she will never forget right after the fire started.
"I just heard a lady screaming and I didn't know what was going on if they got her out at all."
Vance's family was very emotional when they got on scene and firefighters were also emotional.
Assistant Chief Calvin Musser explained they are a volunteer fire company and they did everything they could what the small crew they had.
"We just had trouble getting things set up with the amount of manpower we had," said Musser. "We started exterior firefighting due to the limited manpower that we had on scene. From there, as we got more manpower, we did eventually make access to the rear of the structure."
A fire marshal believes there may be too much damage to determine the cause.