Cause of fatal Albany house fire released

Cause of fatal Albany house fire released

ALBANY, GA. (WALB) – We now know what caused a fatal fire in Albany on Sunday.

The Albany Fire Department says smoke near an oxygen tank caused the fire. Experts say it’s a situation they only see once every few years.

Rebecca Gilliam (66) died in the fire.

“The origin of the fire was the master bedroom located on the northwest side of the structure. She died from a smoke accident,” said Sam Harris, an investigator with the Albany Fire Department.

The result of a house fire caused by smoke with an oxygen tank. The incident report is not yet complete, but the cause has been found, according to the Albany Fire Department. (Source: WALB)

Experts say that it is not uncommon to see these types of fires, but smoke around an oxygen tank can be dangerous.

“This one actually involved oxygen as well. Sometimes people get oxygen once they get into the last stages of COPD, and unfortunately this lady was at this stage of her life. They smoke with oxygen going through their nostrils,” Harris said.

WALB spoke with Gilliam’s younger sister, Katherine Smith. She says Gilliam was known and willing to help anyone.

“She was a very sweet spirit person, and she loved cats and animals. She would help anyone who needed help. She treated everyone, we grew up being told to treat people how you want to be treated and treat people like family,” Smith said.

Smith said she can’t wrap her head around the idea that her sister is gone.

“I was very close to my sister when I was growing up. She and my oldest sister they were my protectors. They always took care of our younger kids,” Katherine Smith said.

Something that the fire department often emphasizes is preparation for any situation that may arise.

“We have just completed CPR training for these purposes so that we can perform CPR properly. And we’re always looking to get better at things so we can stay current,” Harris said.

Harris shared some of the hardships that come with the job.

“Unfortunately, in these situations, it sometimes gets so bad that you can’t do anything to help another person. No matter how badly you want to,” he said.

“Alright, first of all I want to thank the firefighters who were able to get her out even though she didn’t survive. At least we have that much knowing that she got out there,” Smith said.

Coincidentally, a fire occurred at exactly the same time in a different condition in her daughter’s bedroom.

She told WALB that it felt like a sign that someone close to her was in danger.

Now Gilliam’s family is asking for help to cover funeral arrangements.

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