Elderly woman dies after passing firefighter finds her in burning home

HOUSTON – An elderly woman who neighbors regarded as a beloved member of the Sage Meadow subdivision in southeast Houston died in a house fire Christmas morning.

"I woke up at seven, the house was already in flames," neighbor Israel Munoz said.

Patricia Arp, 83, was found at the bottom of the stairwell of her home on 10300 block of Sagerock in Southeast Houston, according to a Houston Fire Department spokesperson.

An off-duty Houston Fire Department captain, Art De La Garza, saw the fire, was first on the scene and succeeded in reaching her, but Arp was pronounced dead at the hospital.

"She loved family," Sherry Abbott, Arp's niece, said Tuesday.

Patricia Arp is seen in this undated photo.
Patricia Arp is seen in this undated photo.

Abbott said Arp was probably in the kitchen preparing for the arrival of her grandkids later in the day.

"She loved to cook," Abbott said.

The fire appears to have started in the kitchen, but the cause of the fire is still pending. As a matter of standard operating procedure in fatal fires, the arson division is investigating.

The house appears to be a total loss.

This is not the first time the Arp family has had to deal with tragedy.

In July 2015, one of Patricia Arp's sons was murdered on the job as he was working as a security officer.