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Elderly woman dies from injuries in Middleburg fire

Woman was taken to hospital; 2 officers suffer smoke inhalation; 3 pets die

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(Photo by Jeff Warner via Facebook)

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – A 91-year-old woman who was injured during a mobile home fire on Nighthawk Lane in Middleburg has died from the injuries she suffered in that fire, the Clay County Sheriff's Office said.

Officials said that Catherine T. Johnson died after being taken to the hospital Wednesday night.

Johnson's adult son and husband were also home when the fire tore through the house. Both survived.

According to officials, Johnson initially escaped the fire but was injured when she went back inside to retrieve personal belongings.

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Three pets also died in the fire, according to Clay County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief David Mote. He said he didn't know what kind of animals the pets were, but a neighbor said they saw a rescue worker trying to perform CPR on a dog.

"I was just standing on my front porch, and I heard people screaming all of a sudden," a neighbor, identified only as Jennifer said. "I ran off my front porch and onto my back deck, went to my car, and drove over here to the people's house to make sure they had a fire truck coming."

Two Clay County Sheriff's Office deputies suffered smoke inhalation and took themselves to the hospital. They are doing well.

Motes said 25 Clay County firefighters responded to the fire within 8 minutes of the 911 call. He said the fire doesn't appear suspicious, but no smoke detectors were working in the home.

"This daytime fire is an example of how very quickly flames can rage out of control, even from a small fire, and how vital a working smoke detector can be to potentially alert residents and provide an opportunity to escape," Motes said in a news release. "Officials urge every citizen to purchase and install smoke detectors, and to replace batteries in existing smoke detectors, and test them monthly."

Neighbors said smoke rose several feet into the air.

Motes said the relationship between the victims is unclear.

No firefighters were hurt. The state fire marshal's office will investigate the cause of the fire, which left the mobile home with extensive damage.


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