94-year-old woman killed in fire was well-known in NW Atlanta community

The well-known community member was 94 years old.

A 94-year-old woman tried to make it out of her northwest Atlanta home when a fire started in the kitchen Friday morning, officials said.

Fire crews made their way inside the house in the 3400 block of Collier Drive and found the woman in the dining room. They were able to get her outside and into the front yard, where she died, Atlanta fire spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford told AJC.com.

She was identified by friends and neighbors as Sally Skrine, according to Channel 2 Action News.

“Right when ... they got to her, the entire front living room flashed,” Stafford said. “Everything was on fire. They got her out there as quickly as possibly to the front yard. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her injuries.”

Stafford said it is hard to say when the fire started, but it had a jump on fire crews arriving around 1 a.m.

“We had heavy black smoke pushing out of the first level of the home where the first main entrance is,” he said.

They were tipped off that someone was trapped inside, which put firefighters on high alert. Burglar bars on the windows and doors made rescue efforts difficult.

“It was a struggle to get in,” Stafford said. “Once we realize we have someone possibly inside, we want to take out every window and every door and open it up, and I will admit that it was a little difficult because those burglar bars are strong. It’s an older home, and they were put in there very well.”

Atlanta firefighters speak to neighbors and family members of a 94-year-old woman killed in a fire at her Collier Drive home Friday morning.


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Stafford said it appeared Skrine was making her way to the front door when firefighters encountered her. She was well-known in her community, family members at the scene told fire crews.

“Anytime we lose a life here, as a result of a fire, it is very tragic for us,” Stafford said. “It’s very unfortunate.”

While the cause of the blaze remains under investigation, he said fire investigators believe it started on the stove. The home sustained heavy damage to the main level and attic, but fire did not reach the basement level, where neighbors said Skrine was known to keep a food pantry.

Skrine, a well-respected member of Jackson Memorial Baptist Church on Fairburn Road, was always giving, neighbor Bernard Brantley told Channel 2. She would often drive around the neighborhood offering bags of food to those who needed it, the news station reported.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.