HOUSTON – One person was killed and another hospitalized Friday after a house fire in southwest Houston, according to the Houston Fire Department.
Not only did firefighters try their best to save the pair, but the community tried as well, neighbors said.
Neighbors and family members said Julius and Eva Lou Chapman, both in their 70s, live in the home.
Firefighters were called around 7:45 p.m. to the home in the 9400 block of Greenwillow St. They said they found heavy smoke and flames coming from the one-story brick house. Once inside, they found Julius Chapman near the front of the house with burns and suffering smoke inhalation. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Officials said a body was found near the back of the house so badly burned, a gender could not be determined. Neighbors and family say that person is Eva Lou Chapman.
The Houston Fire Department said they had to deal with hoarder-like conditions while trying to rescue the couple, which made it difficult to get into the home.
Neighbor Chris Martin grabbed an ax and tried to help.
"The door was so blocked we couldn't even push the door open. So I tried to chop a hole in the door to get in," he said.
Martin didn't know the couple, but said when a neighbor's in need, you don't hesitate to help.
"When I read this morning that someone really died it kind of makes you wonder, 'Could I have chopped harder? Could I have beat the door down more or done something?' But (we) did the best that we could do." Martin said.
The victims' cousin said the couple has a big family,
"They probably have about 50 grandchildren, great grandchildren, too," Alysa Graves said.
The elderly couple was big in the Jewish community and members of the United Orthodox Synagogue.
Arson investigators are looking into what may have started the fire.