Woman Dies While on The Phone With 911

Police have launched an investigation into how someone could die in the relatively small fire

By Anne Reynolds and Aaron Gilchrist
|  Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010  |  Updated 8:16 PM EDT
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Internal Investigation Into Fire Death

Sandy Hill

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Internal Investigation Into Fire Death

Aaron Gilchrist reports on a woman who died while on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.
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The Spotsylvania County fire chief has launched an internal investigation into a fatal house fire.

At question: How the woman died, while on the phone with a 911 operator, when the fire in her home was relatively small.

The fire broke out on Feb. 5 on Spotswood Furnace Road. Sandy Hill awoke at one in the morning to find her bedroom filled with smoke.  She called for help, and was able to tell the dispatcher her address, and where she was in the house.  She also said she was lying on the floor, unable to see anything, and running out of time.

Sandy's roommate had managed to get out of the smoky house.  Rescuers arrived a short time later and were able to save the roommate's teenaged daughter, but they could not find Sandy.  In the 911 tapes obtained by News4, she can be heard telling the operator that she is up the stairs to the left.  Five minutes into the call, she said she could not breathe.  By the time firefighters reached her, it was too late.

"I don't want to speculate at this point whether something was done right or wrong, Spotsylvania Fire Chief Chris Eudailey told News4. "I think it's up to the group to do a thorough review and bring the report back so we know where we need to go from there."

Eudailey said this type of fire death is the first in his 21 years there. While he won't say anything was done wrong, he said this incident is unique and it's a important that this case be reviewed.

"We want a complete and thorough review from the time that the call was received in our 911 center until the time that the last truck left the scene," he said. "We want to know everything in between about what happened."

Investigators have determined that a space heater started the fire. Sandy Hill's sister said she died from smoke inhalation, and they're eager for the investigation so they can get answers -- and closure.
 

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