Poarch fire cause a mystery
Published 6:25 pm Monday, April 26, 2004
By By Arthur McLean Editor
Fire investigators have been unable to determine the cause of a house fire that killed a woman in Poarch on April 16.
Ora Mattson lived alone in her duplex on the Poarch Creek Indian Reservation. She was 78 years old and blind.
Ragan Ingram, assistant commissioner of the Alabama Department of Insurance said the cause of the fire was "undeterminable. But we don't suspect foul play," Ingram said.
A full report has yet to be released on the fire investigation.
The Alabama Department of Insurance is the administrative arm of the state fire marshalls. A fire marshall is called to investigate the causes of fires that damage property or take lives.
The fire broke early on a Friday morning. Emergency workers were called to the scene about 6 a.m., but Mattson's portion of the duplex was already fully involved in flame.
The fire destroyed Mattson's section of the duplex and severely damaged the neighboring section. Mattson's neighbor was away visiting family when the fire started.
Neighbors saw the fire and called firefighters.
Just before 6 a.m. Joyce Kuhn left her home to walk and she noticed flames coming out of Mattson's kitchen window.
Kuhn raced back inside, called the Poarch Fire Department and ran down the street to try to help Mattson.
About the same time, Helen Hallman heard something that made her look out her window and she also noticed the fire and called the fire department.
"By the time I got there, the fire was already coming out the kitchen window," Kuhn said.
She tried entering the house through both the front and back doors several times, but the flames pushes her back. She suffered minor burns to one hand in the attempt to save Mattson.
"It's a courageous thing she did," Hallman said. "It just shouldn't have happened to her (Mattson)."
Mattson had just returned from a group senior fishing trip to Lake Eufala the night before the fire.
Matton's funeral was held April 18.
She is survived by one brother, Houston and Charlotte Colbert of Morgan City, La.; three sisters, Doris Colbert of Poarch, Ann and Morris Bos, Dottie and John Padgett all of Atmore; numerous nieces, nephews, and relatives.