A 73-year-old Thornton woman died of injuries she suffered after fire swept through the home she shared with her son last Friday afternoon.
Virginia “Ruth” Lowe was pulled to safety from the burning home about 4 p.m. on January 25, but died of smoke inhalation shortly after, said Letcher County Coroner Marty Baker.
“Smoke inhalation had taken a toll on her,” said Baker, who pronounced Mrs. Lowe dead at the Whitesburg hospital. “Her home was a total loss.”
Tony Watts, public affairs offi cer with Kentucky State Police Post 13, said the cause of the fire appears to have been electrical. Neighbors of Mrs. Lowe said the fire started in an electric water heater located near the rear of the frame and brick house built in the 1950’s.
Neil Lucas, who lives directly across Thornton Road (KY 1862) from the Lowe home, said his late father, Edgar Lucas, built the house for Arnold and Beulah Blair. Lucas said three other Thornton men spotted the fire about the same time and attempted to rescue Mrs. Lowe.
According to Lucas, one of the neighbors was looking out the window of his living room when he saw smoke rising from the left side of the house. He said the man ran across the street and had to kick the front door open to gain entrance. Lucas said the man and another neighbor, Charles “Checker” Adams, found Mrs. Lowe near the door and were able to carry her outside to await the arrival of fire trucks and an ambulance.
Adams, who lives about four doors up Thornton Creek from the Lowe home, said he learned about the fire from his seven-year-old twin sons who were looking out a window.
“My boys first indicated smoke was coming from behind the house,” said Adams, adding that he and a friend, Jesse Fox, then went to investigate.
“When we opened that door and the smoke first hit me it about burned my eyes out,” said Adams, 38, who has had training in firefi ghting.
“I’m glad we got her out of the house, but I wish we’d been there sooner,” said Adams.
Mrs. Lowe lived in the house, which still stands after being gutted by the flames, with a son, Michael, who was away when the fire started. She had been ill with kidney disease before the fire took her life.
“It looks like she tried to make it out and fell back,” Adams said. “I feel bad for the family more than anything. They need everybody’s prayers.”
Mrs. Lowe was the widow of Floyd “Pete’ Lowe, and the mother of the late Donna Lowe, Carolyn Lowe, Diane Lowe and Lisa Lowe.
She is survived by four children, Michael Lowe and Gladys Bryant, both of Thornton, Floyd Lowe of Little Colley, and Margaret Lowe of Letcher; a brother; two sisters; five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service for Mrs. Lowe was scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Lowe family cemetery.
Letcher Funeral Home has charge of arrangements.