Fire marshal: Phenix City woman's death was accidental

54-year-old Mary Cochran
54-year-old Mary Cochran

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - A wooden cross overlooks the charred remains of a mobile home in Phenix City where a local woman lost her life.

The words "Rest In Peace, Mary" and "We will Miss You" are etched into the memorial in tribute to 54-year-old Mary Cochran.

Cochran was killed Tuesday when a flames tore through her home in the Sun Trace Mobile Home Park off Highway 431 South.

Neighbors say they tried to rescue the woman they say was like a mother to those in the neighborhood.

"We tried to get her out but we didn't know exactly where she was or what was going on," said her next-door neighbor Ayama Gibbs.

Early Wednesday, both state and local officials told WTVM they weren't ruling out anything in this case, including homicide and arson.

But now, none of that applies. Officials released new findings in the case Wednesday afternoon that show Cochran's death was the result of a tragic chain of events.

Alabama Fire Marshal Ed Paulk tells News Leader 9 it was all an accident- flames being sparked by an overloaded extension cord in the home.

According to the Fire Marshal, preliminary autopsy results show that Cochran died from smoke inhalation which he says impairs a person's motor skills due to a lack of oxygen.

Phenix City officials believe the fire started in the living room and spread to the rest of the home, including a front room where Cochran was found covered by a pile of clothes.

"She was lovable, well respected. Everyone loved her and we're all going to miss her. How could such bad things happen to good people? This is not real," Gibbs said.

Paulk says extension cords should only be used as a temporary source of power and not as permanent wiring.

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