Woman, 88, dies in blaze

Lifelong Jacksonville resident known to many as Miss Maggie

The Times-Union
By early afternoon Friday, fire victim Louisa Young's family had quietly started to sort through her ravaged home attempting to salvage mementos.

Young, 88, died after she was trapped inside of her burning Brooklyn neighborhood home. The lifelong Jacksonville resident was pronounced dead early Friday when Jacksonville Fire and Rescue personnel forced their way into the house at 340 Spruce St. and pulled her out.

According to a police report, a neighbor unsuccessfully attempted to get inside after discovering the flames about 11:45 p.m. Thursday. Burglar bars on the front of the house and the back door might have prevented him from entering.

The cause of the fire was undetermined Friday. But State Fire Marshal's Office detective David Cheers said it might have started in the dining room where a kerosene space heater was being used.

Cheers also said investigators did not find any smoke detectors, but there was a lot of damage so it might have been missed. He said the landlord said there was a smoke detector in the home.

Family and neighbors gathered throughout the day outside the destroyed home occupied by the woman everyone knew as Miss Maggie.

Young's granddaughter, Joyce Holman, 45, held some Polaroid pictures in one hand and motioned to the front porch brimming with potted plants she said her grandmother enjoyed so much.

"We're trying to take some of the plants," Holman said.

Stacked outside were framed pictures and photo albums of family members and Young, who had two children, seven grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

She lived in the Brooklyn community, wedged between downtown and Riverside, her entire life and on Spruce Street for at least 25 years, her family said.

"She'd feed anybody; you could bring her food and she'd give it to someone else." said Phyllis Gregg, her oldest granddaughter. "She's going to be greatly missed, but we know the Lord has her now."

Beyond her immediate family, Young's openness also made her a staple in the community, many said.

"She was like a neighborhood grandma," said neighbor Fredericka Holman, 32.

Down the street Leila Riggins, 74, said Miss Maggie frequently walked down the street using her walking stick to visit her.

"She'd call me every morning and wake me up," Riggins said sobbing. "She was the best friend I had."

cynthia.garzajacksonville.com, (904) 359-4380