Firefighters respond to Provo house fire, find woman dead inside

Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-21 23:17:38-04

PROVO, Utah -- A 70-year-old Provo woman is dead, possibly trapped inside her home when it went up in flames Wednesday afternoon.

A neighbor noticed smoke billowing from the house at 1362 S. 1100 West around 4:30 in the afternoon. He called 911, and firefighters arrived in five minutes only to make a grim discovery.

"During the extinguishment of the fire they located a body," said Captain Dean York with the Provo Fire Department.

Louise Massey was dead. She had recently suffered a stroke, struggled with mobility issues and was under hospice care.

"She could walk kind of, but needed help getting to different rooms and mostly sat in the front room and watched TV every once in a while," said relative Tawny Larsen.

Firefighters believe the blaze started on the upper floor of the home. Massey rented the lower floor of the split level house to her son, but he wasn't home when the fire started.  Firefighters said, most likely, the fire began accidentally.

Since the victim smoked, family members believe cigarettes may be to blame, but fire investigators are still trying to pinpoint the exact cause.

As for the victim, she was a mother and grandmother, described as a sweet woman who kept to herself.

"I'm just going to think the best for her, that it wasn't scary or painful for her, that she was asleep and the smoke kept her there," said neighbor Barbara Julius.

Firefighters said it's hard to tell whether Massey made attempts to get out of the house or was overcome by the smoke.  They didn't know anyone was inside the house until they arrived on scene, and by that point, fire officials said the home was fully involved and they could simply go in and rescue Massey.