UPDATED: Cranberry Woman Dies in Blaze that Destroys Fox Run Home

Neighbors identify the victim as Denise Francis.

One woman is dead after fire destroyed her home early today in the Fox Run neighborhood in Cranberry Township.

and  were called to the home on the 100 block of Fox Run Road when fire broke out at 1:50 a.m. Cranberry Fire Chief Brian Kovac said a husband and wife lived in the home.

According to Butler County property records, the home is owned by George and Denise Francis.

The wife, who was bedridden in the first-floor bedroom of the home due to health issues, died in the fire. Rick Kumer, who lives next door to the couple, said Denise Francis suffered from multiple sclerosis

Kovac said the fast-moving flames may have been fed by oxygen in tanks used by the woman because of her medical condition.

"There's a good chance that's probably what helped it along so fast," he said.

George Francis escaped the home without injury after attempting to save his wife. When firefighters arrived moments later, flames already had engulfed the one-story ranch-style home. They said it took them about 15 minutes to put out the blaze.

"There was nothing that could have been done," Kovac said of the husband's attempts to rescue his wife.

Kumer said he was asleep in bed when George Francis woke him by pounding on his door.  Kumer said his wife called 911 while he tried to ran outside with his neighbor and tried to use his own small fire extinguisher to try to help.

The house was ablaze, however, and Kumer said the extinguisher was not powerful enough to allow him to beat back the flames. He said he tried to enter the house by crawling on the floor, but he said he could not go far because the smoke inside was too thick and the ceiing was collapsing.

Kovac said he also sent firefighters inside the burning building to search for the woman until the flames—and a collapsing floor—became too dangerous for them. 

Kumer said he and the Francis family have been neighbors for about 30 years.

Authorities said they don't know what caused the fire, but Cranberry Township Public Safety Director Jeff Schueler said the flames may have started in the bedroom.

Volunteers from the Marshall, Big Knob and Adams Area fire departments also responded to the scene.

A state police fire marshal is investigating the blaze. Check back with Patch for more updates.


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