Woman dies in Park Hill apartment fire - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Woman dies in Park Hill apartment fire

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A woman is found dead after an early morning apartment fire, and the coroner's office is asking for help in contacting next of kin.

The coroner's office identifies the woman as 45-year-old Mary Gipson.  She was pronounced dead on the scene at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday.  Her cause of death was listed as smoke inhalation.

Anyone with any knowledge of her next of kin is asked to call Deputy Coroner Eddie Robinson at 574-0140.

Investigators are also trying to figure out how the fire started.

Around 2 a.m., Dwight Sherlock was ready to call it a night just as a smoke detector went off on the floor above him. At first, he figured the smoke detector was malfunctioning, or someone burned a late night snack.

"After about an hour we got concerned, so we started sniffing around we couldn't smell anything downstairs. Next thing I know there's someone pounding on the door, I open the door and there's smoke everywhere," said Sherlock.

Firefighters believe the blaze started in a second floor bedroom of this apartment complex on South Ninth Street in the Park hill neighborhood. It took firefighters about 15 minutes to put it out.

Firefighters said they found the woman dead on the floor near her bed. The smoke detector neighbors heard may not have been the one found near the victim's bedroom.

"We were not able to determine whether it was functioning at the time of the fire because it was melted. That is an area our arson team will be investigating," said Capt. Sal Melendez of Louisville Fire and Rescue.

Sherlock initially thought everyone got out.

"We didn't even know she (the victim) was there, we had no clue."

A miraculous survivor was the victim's pit bull, Gina.

"They (the firefighters) went into the apartment, found her cringing on the floor, brought her down. I guess she's got a new home cause I'm taking her in," said Sherlock.

The woman owned two dogs.  One of those is with another occupant.

Then, a heartbreaking image -- as WDRB's Rachel Collier saw a second dog hanging out the second-story window, scared and confused. Collier and a photographer alerted firefighters, who had already contacted animal control, and officers captured the dog. A firefighter coaxed the timid animal along to safety, even stopping to give him some affection. The firefighter announced she intends to adopt the dog.

In the midst of tragedy, two compassionate hearts were willing to open up their homes to two dogs who lost their owner.

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