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Elderly woman, 97, dies in Foothills house fire

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Elderly woman, 97, dies in Foothills house fire

By Cory Marshall. CREATED Nov 19, 2013

TUCSON(KGUN9-TV) - An elderly woman was killed in an early morning house fire on Tucson's Northwest side. It happened on the 4400 block of E. Ina Rd., near Swan.

"Well, we started smelling the smoke, of course. It was just heavy! We looked out our window and we saw heavy smoke right here," neighbor Marla Handler said while pointing toward the Foothills home.

Rural Metro Firefighters say the blaze broke out around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, killing 97-year-old Larae Hambenne. Neighbors tell 9OYS Larae proudly lived alone.

"What I will miss most about Larae is how, about once a week, she would bring me a plant she bought at Trader Joes on one of her weekly outings, and if she didn't have one for me, she would give me one from her house when I went over to visit," friend and neighbor Diane Enright told 9OYS. 
 
"She was a good friend to all of us on Ina Road, had a caring heart, and was certainly a role model for me. I hope I live to a ripe old age as well as she did," Enright added.

John Holt, a construction worker, was on site of a project just a few yards away when the flames first erupted. He ran up to check if anyone was inside even before fire crews arrived. 

"It was on fire, the whole house was just engulfed in flames," Hold said. "I was yelling, 'hey, hello hello!' I didn't hear nothing. We went around front and the front door was open. I peaked in to see if I could get in there and flames were shooting out the front door. The glass blew out."

Holt says the security bars on the windows blocked his way into the home -- all he could do was step back and watch.

Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire. Fire crews say the home did not have smoke alarms.