Elderly Woman Rescued From Indiana Fire Dies

Two firefighters were hurt rescuing the woman from the blaze.


An elderly woman died late Saturday evening after her home caught fire earlier in the day.

Fern Carter died at the hospital after she received burns over 80 percent of her body and suffered smoke inhalation.

Two White River Township firefighters, Michael Shoemaker, 36, and Jason Tibbetts, 30, were also injured, and are credited with risking their lives to save Carter. Shoemaker and Tibbetts have first- and second-degree burns. Both are expected to recover.

Investigators said the blaze began in Carter's bedroom and that it burned for some time before family members noticed it.

"There were no working smoke detectors in the house, which could have hampered that effort. If they were on the other end of the house, they may not have even known there was a fire in progress," said Jeff Wilson, White River Township battalion chief.

After a 911 call, 50 firefighters from three departments arrived at the home within minutes.

Shoemaker and Tibbetts pulled Carter out of the home, through thick smoke and intense heat.

"If she survives this ordeal, it's 100 percent because of them," Wilson said. "They got in there quick. They did a great job."

Neighbors commended the firefighters for their quick response.

"I think she's really lucky. In most cases like that, a fire happens in the same room that you're in, I'm surprised that she made it out alive," said neighbor Steven Ingle.

Other neighbors said their prayers are with Carter's family and looked for ways to help.

"They've been our neighbors for 34 years. Mr. Carter just passed away about a year ago, so we've been touched by a lot of heartache. It's sad. It really is," said neighbor Chuck Moreland.

Officials said the wounded firefighters were wearing protective gear, but the heat was so intense that it burned through it.

Investigators said Carter was on oxygen and smoking, which started the fire.

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