Criminal Act Ruled Out In Fatal Fire

Roanoke, VA - We may never know what caused the fire that killed one person and several pets Monday afternoon.

The house, on Ridgerun Drive in Roanoke, had been split into several apartments.

The fire did so much damage investigators with Roanoke Fire and EMS may never come up with an official cause.

Now, they're waiting for the Medical Examiner's report before identifying the victim.

"I knew that there was a lady in there but you couldn't get in there to get anybody out,"said neighbor Bill Eldreth.

He believes the person killed in the fire is his neighbor of nearly two decades. A woman who, he said, had been suffering from a variety of ailments over the past dozen years.

Knowing someone was inside, as the flames burst through the roof, has been the hardest part of it all.

"There's just this gut feeling you know... Maybe I could have done better with them. But there was just nothing you could do," said Eldreth.

Joshua Pina knows that gut feeling too.

He and his friend, who lived in the home's basement apartment, tried to go through the front door but were driven back by the heat and flames.

He then had to convince his friend that any effort would be futile.

"It's actually, I would say, real depressing. At the moment you actually know that someone is in there a lot of things run through your mind. Especially, like.. you feel in a way guilty even though you have nothing to do with the situation," said Pina.

Some neighbors said there was ongoing concern that the suspected victim would smoke while using oxygen.

Her machine laid out on the lawn in a re-creation of the bedroom where the fire may have started.

The flames so hot, a department spokeswoman says, they may never know how it began.

"It's just a sad situation," said Eldreth.

While the cause may go undetermined investigators are ruling out a criminal act as the cause.

The Red Cross is helping out five adults displaced.

Total monetary damage is listed at nearly $160,000.