Pamela Punch told a horrific story of how a family member tried to rescue Yvonne Mount-Redd from her burning home on South Main Street in Tuskegee.
"She tried to get into the house but couldn't. All she could hear was Yvonne banging on the windows and the walls," said Punch.
Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford says he was there, and also tried to get Mount-Redd out, but he was too beaten back by the smoke. "It was the kind of smoke that kills you," said Mayor Ford.
SLIDESHOW: Fatal house fire 12/27
Yvonne Mount-Redd never made it out. A native of Tuskegee, Mount-Redd retired from teaching in New York.
Meantime, family members tell WSFA 12 News they are concerned about the lack of fire hydrants nearby, and wonder if one in front of Mount-Redd's home could have made a difference. In fact, one relative told WSFA 12 News the nearest one was 'a mile away.'
We found a hydrant just down the block, and it was obviously used to battle the blaze. We also found another hydrant in the opposite direction, two-tenths of a mile from Mount-Redd's home.
Mayor Ford admitted the fire protection in the city could be better including having more hydrants but in this case Ford vigorously defended the Tuskegee Fire Department.
"They did the best they could. They tried to save Mount-Redd but couldn't because the fire was too much," Ford said.
The mayor says the city has already made improvements in the water lines on North Main Street and will try to do the same on South Main Street where the fire occured. Mayor Ford says the challenge with these types of projects is they are costly and it takes time.
Tuskegee firefighters had help from out of town firefighters such as those from the Chehaw Volunteer Fire Department.
"We're just trying to hold it together," said Punch as she and the rest of the family stood across the street watching firefighters put out some 'hot' spots.
For now it's not clear what started the blaze. The family says Yvonne Mount-Redd was someone who didn't smoke or drink, loved to dance and loved people. She was 59-year-old.
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