Burned staircase trapped woman upstairs during fire - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Burned staircase trapped woman upstairs during fire

(WMC-TV) – A 45-year-old woman is dead after becoming trapped upstairs when her home caught fire Friday morning.

According to neighbors on Bethay Drive, the victim is Gwendolyn Wallace. She was a mail carrier. They say her husband and son were already gone for the day when the fire broke out between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Neighbors say they did everything they could to save Wallace.

"Got out of my truck, ran up the drive and I could see fire at the front door," explained Derek Graham, who lives nearby. "Here was fire on the staircase so I started begging and screaming, begging and screaming."

Derek Graham got the attention of many of the neighbors.

He says he and others started grabbing bricks and throwing them at the windows, trying to rescue their 45-year-old neighbor.

Fire officials say Gwendolyn Wallace died at the top of the stairs from smoke inhalation.

Crews tried to rescue Wallace but the staircase had already burned out from under her and there was no way to get her downstairs.

"These are sad times. Our heart goes out to the family now," said Brent Perkins, Shelby County Fire Department.

"I'm praying right now for the family because you don't wish that on anyone," said Graham.

Neighbors say Gwendolyn's husband was already at work when the fire broke out. They say her son attends Southwind High School just down the street. He was out for a walk when the fire happened.

Shelby County Fire department officials say they are still trying to determine what caused the house fire, but they believe it started near the staircase.

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