Raleigh house fire claims two lives

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Investigators say a fire that killed an elderly couple at a Raleigh home Friday night was sparked by food that had been forgotten and left cooking on the stove.

The victims' names and ages won’t be released until they’re positively identified by the medical examiner and their loved ones have been notified, but family friend Mike Malone said both the man and woman had dementia.

"Good people. Good people," he said.

It only took fire crews a few minutes to get to the home on Haughton Place near Epping Way when they got the call around 9 p.m. Friday, but it was already too late to save the couple.

By the time firefighters arrived, flames had overtaken the house.

"When our crews initially arrived on the scene, there was heavy fire visible on the exterior and in the interior of the structure," said Memphis Fire Department spokesperson Lt. Wayne Cooke.

Firefighters found the victims dead in a hallway near the front door.

"Sincere condolences go out to this family," he said.

Lt. Cooke said the roof began to collapse after the fire spread to the attic, leading to the decision to pull the firefighters from the home so they could battle the flames from the outside.

"For the safety of our fire crews, we went defensive, brought our crews to the exterior," he said.

Malone said the victims' adult son and granddaughter also lived at the home, but had just stepped out shortly before the fire started.

"The son and his daughter went out briefly, and when they arrived back, the house was in flames," he said.

Investigators are working to figure out if the couple had a smoke alarm, as loved ones try to cope with the tragic news.

"It’s devastating to the family, especially to the survivors," Malone said. "It just breaks your heart."

MFD said a nearby home and car were also damaged, but no one else was hurt.

The Red Cross is helping out the other people who lived in the home.