Neighbors React to Death of Victim in Timberville Fire

TIMBERVILLE --- A 73-year-old woman has died following a house fire that started early Thursday morning on Center Street.

The victim, Jean Ritchie Sager, likely died from smoke inhalation and a lack of oxygen inside the home.

Fire crews say they first received a call around around 5:30 a.m. on Thursday.

A firefighter from Timberville says the fire was "unusual", since most of it was out when crews from four different areas showed up.

On Friday, Rockingham County Fire and Rescue released an official report on what caused the fire to occur.

According to the report, a space heater was placed too close to "combustibles", which could refer to things like blankets, papers, or things made of wood.

The fire started in the living room towards the front of the house and then spread to the front door and parts of the porch.

The report also states that Sager didn't have a working smoke detector inside her home.

On Friday morning, the doors were boarded shut, crime scene tape blocked off the entrance, and charred materials were still on the porch.

"There must have been about four or five fire trucks. Two or three ambulances, fire marshals. The whole street was lined with trucks," explained Gary Biller, who lives on the street over from the house. He said the sound of the fire engines woke him up early on Thursday morning.

Another woman in the neighborhood spoke of the times she would often walk by Sager's home and chat with her.

"It's a tragedy. I can't believe she's gone," Diane Shurkey said. "She was a good friend to me. I'm going to miss talking to her when I walk by."

Rockingham Fire and Rescue crews said Thursday's fire is a tragic reminder for everyone to make sure their smoke detector is properly installed and working.

They say if a person doesn't have one or if they have any questions regarding detectors, call the local fire department. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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