Fire Claims One Life In Bootheel

May 17, 2007 - Posted at 7:03 p.m. CDT

CAMPBELL, MO-A quiet morning on maple street in Campbell, Missouri took a fatal turn.

"I'm in shock.  I just never dreamed something like this would happen just down the road from us," said neighbor Peggy Walker.

Around 7:00 Thursday morning, fire erupted.

"He came and beat on our door, saying there was a house fire and that his girlfriend was trapped in there.  He wanted to know if we could come and help.  When we walked outside the door, we just knew there was nothing we could do," said Walker.

Minutes later firefighters arrived to flames erupting from the front windows of the house.

"When we got on the scene, they were saying that they thought there was somebody inside.  One man came out and was already burned and said he lost a lady pulling her out," said Chief Allen Edwards.

Wayne Sipes was transported to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis.   His girlfriend 38-year-old Pat Richmond lost her life in the blaze.

"We worked as hard as we could, but there just wasn't a whole lot we could do," said Edwards.

Due to the structure of the house, the fire swelled in between two walls.  Firefighters had to bring in a backhoe to knock the walls down.  This was just one of the many challenges they had in fighting the fire.

"Some of the back doorways where we attempted to come in were boarded up.  Their cook stove was in front of the back door.  Stuff like that made it hard to get in," said Edwards.

Now, as investigators sift through the ashes, the close-knit community is trying to cope with the loss.

"To die in a fire is just one of the worst things that can happen, and she was just so full of life.  You just hate to see a life like that end," said Barbara Cumins.

Richmond is remembered as someone loved by all.

"She was just a little Bantie Rooster.  She was just on the go all the time.  She loved people.  She loved kids.  The kids loved her," said Cumins.

The fire marshall says the cause of the blaze could be linked to a space heater or an overloaded electrical circuit.

Sipes is listed in Fair condition at the Med.

Meanwhile, funeral arrangements for Richmond have not been made at this time.

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