MARYILLE (WATE) - A 70-year-old woman suffered burns and smoke inhalation Tuesday morning after being trapped in her burning home.
Blount County firefighters rescued Shirley Ann Shields around 8:30 a.m. from her home at Old Knoxville Pike and Sevier Avenue.
They say Shields was found lying on the floor of a hallway when they entered the burning home.
She was taken first to UT Medical Center, but later transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.
The home was badly damaged by the fire.
Residents in the quiet Maryville neighborhood say they were awakened by the sounds of sirens and not prepared for what they were about to see.
"I walked to the back of the house to see if I could see anything because it looked like it was coming from behind my house, and I saw the fire coming out of the back of the house," Brandi Hurst said.
Firefighters knew the fire was going to be bad before they even arrived on scene.
"When they see black smoke leaving the station and you can see it for several miles around, it's a pretty intense fire," said Chief Doug McClanahan of the Blount County Fire Protection District.
"The very back of it was just covered in flames," Hurst added.
Things got worse for fire crews and onlookers when they learned the 70-year-old homeowner was trapped inside.
Hurst and her family watched as firefighters tried to rescue her.
"I was scared to death, hoping they would get out alive, hoping that they could get out alive," said Hurst.
Hurst and her family now say this fire is a stark reminder for them to re-examine their emergency plans.
"We're definitely going to make sure the kids know what to do, make sure we have our exit routes and definitely checking smoke alarms more often," said Hurst.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. No one else was at home or injured during the fire.