PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - Fire investigators believe a woman died from smoke inhalation after trying to save her family from a burning home.
Marjorie C. King, 73, was killed early Saturday morning after a fire broke out in her home on Lee Circle.
Fire investigators have ruled the fire accidental. It was ignited by a heat lamp which had been left on in her carport overnight to keep baby chicks warm.
Investigators say the chicks were placed in a box of wood shavings, which was lit by the heat lamp. The fire spread quickly leaving little time for the family of five to escape.
"All I could think about was Mrs. King, can they get her out?" recalled Tom Gibbs who has lived behind the King residence for more than a decade. He says the sight of the fire Saturday and the burnt remains today are just tragic.
"It was very scary because the first thing I thought about was her and who was in there because at that time it looked like nobody could get out. The fire was huge, it raged above the pine trees," Gibbs said.
Sevier County Fire Investigator Jay Breeden does not believe the smoke detectors were working properly. The fire started in the carport and spread quickly.
"The home was 60 percent involved. They immediately tried to do rescue, sent their guys in. Unfortunately due to the heavy smoke and condition of the fire they weren't able to get in to do very much search and rescue," Breeden said.
They believe King was trying to go back inside and warn her family.
"There were reports she was yelling for her daughter who was downstairs to warn her about the fire and I don't think she knew at that point that her daughter was already out," he said.
Gibbs says that doesn't surprise him; that was just the type of person Marjorie King was.
"She was a very kind lady. She loved her family really well. She had her daughter and her granddaughter living with her, so I could imagine she would have done that. That's pretty heroic," Gibbs said.
The other residents in the home that were able to make it out safely said they woke because of falling debris and smoke, but did not hear any alarms.
Breeden says he is not sure whether this accident could have been avoided but a working smoke alarms and a fire plan are key.
"That's something you need to do. You need to know where everyone's going to be if you were to have a fire. Most people go their whole lives without suffering a fire, but when it does come, you want to be prepared for it regardless," Breeden explained.