Family: Retired nurse dies in house fire in West Augustine neighborhood

Relatives say investigators told them fire appears to have started from cigarette

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – One person was found dead after a house fire Friday afternoon in the West Augustine neighborhood, according to St. Johns County Fire Rescue.

The woman’s family identified her as Ernestine Martin, 73, a retired Flagler Hospital nurse.

Firefighters and deputies were dispatched shortly before 2:45 p.m. to a burning home on West 11th Street.

Martin has relatives who live directly across the street, who say they were told by investigators that the fire appears to have started from a lit cigarette.

“I can’t believe this is real. It feels like a nightmare,” said Akethya Felder, Martin’s niece.

Lasondra Gillard, a neighbor who knew Martin, was at home when the fire broke out.

“We saw flames from her roof,” Gillard said. “We were trying to break in the door, but by the time police came, they kicked in the door.”

Willie White, who also lives in the neighborhood, said his neighbor will be greatly missed.

“She was a real outstanding lady. She always treated people nice,” White said.

Martin’s relatives said she’d been a nurse for more than 20 years before retiring in 2018.

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