72-year-old woman dies in Portsmouth apartment fire

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A 72-year-old woman didn’t make it out alive from an apartment that caught fire early Thursday morning in Craddock. 

William Bradshaw says he woke up around 2:30 a.m. to the smell of smoke in his apartment on Nicholson Street, just off Afton Parkway, that he shares with his wife and mother. 

“It was really, really thick smoke,” said Bradshaw. “I was hollering, ‘everybody out, get out, it’s a fire.'”

Bradshaw says he didn’t realize until he got downstairs that his mother, Sylvia Ignacio, didn’t make it out. 

In an effort to rescue his mom, he quickly grabbed a ladder from his neighbor’s house and climbed to the second-floor unit. He busted out a window and heard his mom say she was trying to make it to the bathroom for water.

“I busted the windows out again, but this time I didn’t hear nothing,” he recalls. “I don’t think she made it to the bathroom. I think smoke inhalation got her before she even got there.”

Crews remained on scene putting out hot spots for several hours after attacking the fire through the night.  

In recent years, Bradshaw says the owner of the building has been renovating several units. He says the fire started in a unit currently under renovation. 

Chief Jim Hoffler says the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The two surviving victims, Bradshaw and his wife Kim, are staying with a neighbor until they can find a new place of their own. The American Red Cross is also assisting the family. 

Stay with WAVY.com for updates on this story.

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