Front Royal woman dies in fire
The Warren Sentinel
FRONT ROYAL – A local woman died from smoke inhalation Feb. 7 when a fire broke out in her home at 220 Locust Dale Road.
Firefighters received the call at 11:59 p.m. Feb. 7. The 911 call was made by the home's sole occupant, Pauline A. Hockett, 72, who had already succumbed to smoke inhalation and thermal injuries by the time fire crews located her body.
Fire Marshall Gerry Maiatico said officials are awaiting information from the medical examiner before releasing anymore information about how Hockett died.
“We feel that there were conditions that delayed reaction upon discovery of the fire as well as decreased awareness of her surroundings,” Maiatico said.
There is no indication Hockett had a disability, he said.
Fire officials believe the fire was caused when someone dumped an ashtray into a trash can. Rescue efforts were hampered by the amount of material being stored in Hockett's home.
“The storage conditions throughout the property were extreme at best and classifiable as hoarding,” Maiatico said.
The entire first floor of the victim's home was being used as a storage area. Her body was found in the basement, where conditions were similar.
“She was using the first floor as more of a storage area for her materials,” Maiatico said. “In some spots those materials actually reached six feet in height, almost to the ceiling.”
Fire crews worked into the early morning Friday to extinguish the fire, leaving the scene around 6 a.m.
By 8:45 a.m. Friday, they received a call stating that the fire had rekindled and returned to the home, finding it fully involved. Crews remained on the scene throughout the day, working to extinguish the fire with over 120,000 gallons of water.
In the end, the house was a total loss. Damage to the structure and contents was estimated at $450,000.
Officials said Hockett had smoke detectors that were working properly when the fire occurred.
Her family resides in Northern Virginia and indicated to officials here that she lived independently, drove by herself and was involved in some community functions.
She was the first person in five years to die in a fire in Warren County.