By Beth Germano, WBZ-TVBy Beth Germano

LUNENBURG (CBS) – Fire ravaged a home in Lunenberg Sunday morning claiming the life of a 91-year-old woman, and seriously injuring her 56-year-old daughter.

Investigators said the fire appears to be accidental, but the overnight storm hampered rescue efforts with downed limbs and power lines blocking quick access to the home on New West Townsend Road.

With heavy flames and smoke, firefighters had trouble locating Shirley Steward, who was found in a first-floor bedroom.

Her daughter Roberta was forced to jump to safety from a second floor window after desperately trying to reach her mother.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports.

“She didn’t want to leave, but the next door neighbor told her you’ve got to get out, you have no choice,” said her brother Perley Steward.

His mother was known as an icon in the neighborhood.

“She may have been 91, but she was a strong woman with a lot of life left and looking forward to birthday 92,” he said.

Roberta Steward appears to have fallen on broken branches and suffered broken bones in her back, as well as second degree burns.

Neighbors, who heard her screams for help, rushed to the burning home.

“I took off my coat, and got my husband’s coat and covered her with a blanket. I stayed with her to console her a little bit,” said neighbor Nancy Lagasse. “She was on her back very upset that she couldn’t get to her mother.”

The Lunenberg neighborhood is struggling to clean up without electricity, while Dennis Stewart says power lines were sparking overnight.

“You can see the wires. People are afraid to go through them, they’re all cut and broken now,” he said.

A close bond was broken between mother and daughter in the intense fire, and the storm, while not causing the fire, may have cost precious time.


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