SPRINGFIELD, ORE. — Police say the woman who died in the McKenzie Motel fire in Springfield was 22-year-old, Mariah Dawn McElroy from Springfield.
They say her screams early Sunday morning likely saved the three survivors.
Early Sunday morning, neighbors near the McKenzie Motel near 17th and Main in Springfield, were drawn outside.
“I was sitting and watching TV and through the curtains, I could see an orange flash so I opened the curtains,” said Mike Stone, who lives across the street.
When Stone and his wife, Rebecca, opened the curtains, they saw it was much more than a flash.
“I was shocked. I mean, it’s not the first time I’ve seen a fire but, you know, seeing something that large, it’s something you only think you’ll see on TV,” said Rebecca Livingston-Stone.
Investigators say the fire started around 12:45 Sunday morning. Three people were able to safely crawl out of a back window McElroy didn’t make it out.
“We got a preliminary report from the medical examiners office and the primary cause of death, and this is preliminary mind you, is smoke inhalation,” said Sgt. David Lewis with the Springfield Police Department.
He says McElroy died in the fire but she’s most likely the reason three people lived.
“They were awoken to Ms. McElroy screaming, actually, about the fire and the fire was toward the only entrance exit to the room. They ended up having to go out a back window. She did not make it. She passed out before she got there,” said Sgt. Lewis.
At this point, the cause of the fire has not been finalized but investigators have an idea on what started it.
“We’re still waiting for the fire marshal’s report to find out the exact cause of the fire. There’s been some preliminary indications too that it may have been some clothing against a baseboard heater,” said Sgt. Lewis.
Although the chaos is all over, Stone says he can still remember how he felt when he first saw it through his curtains.
“It was crazy. It was scary too,” said Stone.
Police say the three survivors are still shaken up from the incident but they did talk to police. They were acquaintances of McElroy.
Investigators don’t suspect foul play.