Woman, 86, burned in Cobb house fire

When fire erupted in the kitchen of May Dugger's home near Marietta on Wednesday morning, the 86-year-old woman's first action was to call her daughter and son-in-law, Channel 2 Action News reports.

But that decision delayed a response by firefighters because the relatives could not understand Dugger, who was seriously burned and was screaming over the telephone. She should have first gotten out of the house and then called 911, officials said.

Ray Caddell, the victim’s son-in-law, told Channel 2, “The fire station is right around the corner,” but “there was a delay in calling the fire people” because of the confusion.

By the time fire crews arrived at the home on Elm Creek Drive, "there were flames coming out of the garage, so it was pretty intense,” said firefighter Denell Boyd, spokeswoman for the Cobb County Fire Department.

Dugger, who lives alone in her home, sustained first- and second-degree burns to her upper body, Boyd said. The victim was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where she remained in the burn unit Wednesday night.

When the relatives received Dugger’s call, they couldn’t make out what the woman was saying, so they called 911 and a police officer was sent to her home, Boyd said. Dispatched shortly after 10 a.m., the officer quickly got to the residence, saw the fire and alerted the fire department.

Firefighters had the blaze under control by 10:35 a.m., Boyd said. The kitchen and garage were extensively damaged. The victim’s dog was dead, and her cat was missing. Fire investigators remained at the scene seeking the cause of the blaze.

The incident “just stresses the importance of getting out, calling 911 first and then, if you need to talk to family members, do that,” Boyd said.