Fatal fire apparently accidental
Jason Houston Acting Publisher
Franklin County Sheriff Larry Plott said Tuesday that the death of a local woman in a bizarre fire Monday morning appeared to be accidental.
Investigators said Pamela Russell, 45, of 125 Oak Hill Drive in Russellville, died Monday morning after accidentally setting herself on fire. Plott said his department received a 911 call at 12:12 a.m. Monday morning from an 11-year-old who said his mother was on fire and woke him up banging on the door.
Dispatchers gave him instructions, and he poured buckets of water on her, Plott said.
Franklin County Coroner David Hester pronounced Russell dead on the scene at 1 a.m.
Plott said the preliminary investigation indicated that Russell walked out onto the front porch to smoke a cigarette. He said Russell's husband is disabled and uses an oxygen machine in the house, and that Russell frequently went outside to smoke. Her husband and son were both already asleep, Plott said.
Plott said an autopsy was ordered and fire marshals called in to follow protocol, but that no foul play is suspected.
Also, Plott said samples of the victim's clothing was sent to forensics to allow authorities to gain a more clear picture of what happened. According to reports, the fire began on Russell's shirt and burned her chest and torso, and the preliminary cause of death was smoke inhalation and deep burns. Russell's funeral is set for 1 p.m. today at Akins Funeral Home.