98-year-old woman dies in West Philadelphia fire

WEST PHILADELPHIA - February 16, 2014

It happened around 4:50 Sunday afternoon on the 5700 block of Poplar Street.

"I heard some commotion and I came to the door. I opened my door and saw all this thick smoke coming from her home," said Pamela Johnson.

Johnson watched as firefighters tried to get into her neighbor's home.

Crews say the flames began in the rear, upstairs bedroom. The victim, Anna Williams, cried for help but didn't make it out alive.

"She was immobile, she couldn't move herself and she was trapped and the fire was in the room where she was - the origin," said Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.

Commissioner Ayers says it took 37 minutes to get the fire under control but the ice and snow made for treacherous conditions.

"We put a full box out we are still putting full boxes out during this weather while some of the streets are still a little slick," said Commissioner Ayers.

The victim's grandson John Williams grieved outside. His mother and father lived inside the home with his grandmother but were out running errands at the time of the blaze.

"I can't say nothing bad about her, she was my heart. I have three sisters but I was the only grandson of hers and my grandmother would do anything in the world for anybody," said Williams.

"Ms. Williams was a very beautiful person, a good hearted woman, a Christian woman and truly loved by all on this block. She was a matriarch on this block," said Johnson.

Williams says his grandparents were the first African Americans to move onto the block. She was also an elder member of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, a 132 year old institution.

Meanwhile investigators are still working to determine the cause.

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