Candle likely to blame in fatal Columbia house fire

Courtesy: James Bennett of the Columbia Daily Herald

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – A candle is likely to blame for a house fire that claimed a 23-year-old’s life in Columbia over the weekend.

It happened in the 1800 block of Parkway Avenue Saturday.

The victim, identified by fire officials as Natalie Gasc, was inside the home at the time and called 911 for help but was unable to tell emergency responders where to go after being overcome by smoke.

“There’s a fire in my house,” Gasc said to the 911 dispatcher, while gasping for air. “Fire! Fire! 1816.”

Courtesy: James Bennett of the Columbia Daily Herald

Without knowing the full address, the dispatcher was forced to use precious seconds to run a second program that pings the caller’s cell phone to get emergency crews rolling to the scene.

Alaina Swann lives across from the victim. She told News 2 she witnessed firefighters arriving to the scene three minutes later.

“It was scary,” she said.

According to investigators, the victim was found unresponsive in a bedroom of the burning home.

Firefighters pulled Gasc to the front yard and started rendering CPR.

Courtesy: James Bennett of the Columbia Daily Herald

“There was one firefighter who was doing CPR at least five minutes, I would say,” Swann told News 2.

In a photo taken by James Bennett of the Columbia Daily Herald, emergency responders were captured praying for the victim, who was resuscitated before being taken to the hospital.

Director Mark Gandee told News 2 the delay getting the address was stressful, but his crews acted superbly.

“It is very stressful to know someone is in harm’s way and you are trying to get them help as quick as you can,” he said.

Investigators on the scene said the fire originated from an open flame, likely a candle that was placed too closely to combustible materials, and have ruled it accidental.

The victim died Sunday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.