JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The family of a 41-year-old Jacksonville woman killed in a house fire Thursday night is mourning her.
Investigators believe the fire was started by a burning candle in a home without electricity.
Yolanda Fletcher died in the blaze at West 10th and Fairfax streets, and a man is still in critical condition. A third person was taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation but was later OK.
"He said, 'They're taking your daughter off to the hospital. They can't get her heartbeat,'" said LaDaisy Ware, Fletcher's mother. "I said, 'They can't?' I said, 'Wait a minute.'"
Ware said the family had been using candles for light after the power was shut off last week.
JEA records indicate the first bill was sent for $253 in early January and was due at the end of the month. JEA said a family member called asking how much needed to be paid to keep the service on, but the promised payment of $183 was never made.
In early February, a new bill for $614 was sent. By Feb. 19, the power was cut off.
"That's so sad. I feel so sorry for her," neighbor Cassandra Spencer said. "I just got through talking to her Wednesday."
Spencer said Fletcher was one of her best friends. She said Fletcher had only recently gotten out of the hospital and had reached out to financial services in the city to help get the power back on, only to hit a brick wall.
"They turned her down," Spencer said. "They asked her, talking about, 'What? You got some income?' What's that got to do with her income, trying to get help? If she had income, don't you think she'd have her lights on?"
JEA said customers need to speak up if they're having trouble paying their bill.
"If you need more time to pay your bill, that you contact us at 904-665-6000 and speak in person to one of our customer care consultants," JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce said. "JEA will be able to offer several options, one that can best fit your need and avoid disconnection."
There has been a memorial account setup by the family of Fletcher in order to help assist with her burial. Any friends, family, or contributors my make their donations at Wells Fargo Bank, account name Yolander Sheppard Fletcher Benefit Memorial Fund Acct# 7984792064.
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