Victims of fatal fire identified

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Virginia Beach fire officials have identified the two people who were killed Friday night in a house fire.

Firefighters responded to the fire at 1340 Thamesford Drive around 6:10 p.m. and reported heavy fire upon arrival, according to Battalion Chief Patrick Seigh.

“I could hear someone yelling and screaming, and we couldn’t get in the house,” said neighbor Genese Herrera, who rushed to the burning home before fire crews arrived. “There were a lot of people trying to help by busting glass and windows.”

Herrera said her uncle tried to break the door down to help the people trapped inside, but smoke and fire intensified, making it impossible.

“There were two people who jumped out the window, and one was blind,” Herrera said.

She told four women were in the home when the fire started. The two women who jumped out the window survived. Herrera rushed them to safety.

“I asked one of them what happened, she said it was the fireplace, I think, the fireplace caught on fire,” Herrera said. “She said, ‘I knew there was something wrong, I knew there was something wrong,’ but she couldn’t tell because she is blind.”

Herrera called 911, describing the tragic scene as the fire spread through the home.

“I tried to tell the 911 dispatcher there are two elderly people in the house, a 66-year-old and an 80-year-old, and they can’t get out the door because they were scared,” Herrera said.

Two firefighters received first and second degree burns looking for the two women trapped in the home. They found one dead in their initial search, and the other was found dead on the second floor a short time later.

The victims were identified as 82-year-old Marcia Varcus and 67-year-old Nancy Basnight. The two other people injured in the fire are also women.

Battalion Chief Seigh said one of the rescued women was in critical condition and was transported to a burn trauma hospital. Another woman was injured, but refused treatment. The two firefighters were taken to area hospitals, but have been treated and released.

Neighbors tell a couple had recently moved into the home. They say they aren’t sure how the four women are related or if all were currently living in the house.

“They’re a nice couple,” said next door neighbor, Christian Bright. “I understand there’s some more people that lived in the house as well. So my blessings and prayers go out to them because this is a hard time to them.”

Fire investigators said the cause of the fire was accidental. The Fire Department determined the fire started on the home’s first floor, and may have been related to the fireplace.

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