BY STEPHEN GURR
An Oakwood woman died from suspected smoke inhalation in a small fire in her condominium early Friday morning, public safety officials said.
Donna Saine Alexander, 53, died in what is believed to be an accidental fire, Oakwood Police Chief Randall Moon said.
The fatal fire at Township Condominiums on Township Drive occurred sometime early Friday morning but was not discovered until after it had burned out, Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said.
A maintenance man entering the condominium at about 11:15 a.m. called fire officials after a puff of smoke came out of the door at 47-B Township Drive when he opened it, Kimbrell said. Firefighters later found Alexander’s body lying on the kitchen floor near a back door.
The fire started in the living room area of the one-story condominium, Kimbrell said.
"The fire appeared to have started sometime during the night, burned up the oxygen and burned itself out," Kimbrell said.
Some of the windows in the home were cracked and there was smoke damage, but most of the fire and heat damage was confined to a sofa in the living room, Kimbrell said.
The cause of the fire remains unknown, but fire officials believe smoking may have played a role. Family members told fire investigators the woman was a heavy smoker and there was evidence of smoking near the sofa.
A neighbor told officials he smelled a faint odor of smoke about 4 a.m. Friday morning but it quickly went away.
The condominium had a smoke alarm but it is believed the battery was not properly installed, Kimbrell said.
It was the first fire fatality in Hall County since Jan. 31, 2009, when a 62-year-old woman died in a house fire on East Ridge Road. The last fatal fire in Hall County prior to that was in January 2008.
The state of Georgia averages between 115 and 120 fatal fires a year. Smoking is a major cause of fatal fires, Kimbrell said.