By Jennifer McGraw

NORTH SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Neighbors are in shock after a deadly fire on Wilson Avenue Thursday afternoon at a senior apartment complex.

“She couldn’t get out, she couldn’t walk, she needed help,” said Tanisha Curtis who is a caretaker to the woman next door.

She said Barbara Downs was in a wheelchair and this deadly fire has devastated this tight-knit senior community.

“I opened the door, and it was Miss Barbara’s apartment, and I ran back and told her because Miss Barbara is a good friend to my client and me. I’ve known her for four years,” she said.

The fire stopped even strangers.

“It was pretty horrific when you drove by, so that was our first instinct was to stop and make sure that everything was ok,” said Jennifer King who stopped to help.

The outcome, however, was devastating. Heavy smoke filled the apartment and by the time crews arrived it was too late.

“Doing a normal search and finding somebody that’s in a wheelchair like this, obviously trying to get her out of the wheelchair and get her safely outside, it’s just an additional difficulty for fire crews,”  said Chris Harvey with the Sacramento Fire Department.

Those closest to Downs said she lived there with her son and was always smiling.

“She’s a very sweet, I’m going to miss her, I just talk to her yesterday. We were all outside yesterday just chilling and having fun,” Curtis said.

She just can’t believe Downs is gone.

“My heart goes out to her, her son, and her family. I don’t wish this on no one,” she said.

Firefighters were able to save Downs’ cat and said they would cherish her bright spirit and their memories.

The fire is under investigation no word yet on how it all started.


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