BY ANGIE JACKSON
---- — LAKE ANN — A Lake Ann woman escaped a house fire, then died of a heart attack.
Firefighters found Linda McAlpin, 64, outside her home at 4520 Cottonwood Court on Wednesday afternoon when they responded to the blaze. McAlpin called 911 to report the fire and a dispatcher coaxed her away from flames and off a deck without a stairway, Almira Township Fire Chief Jay Morse said.
McAlpin was unresponsive when firefighters arrived, Morse said. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. An autopsy confirmed that smoke inhalation and heat caused the heart attack.
Crews for five hours battled the blaze that was driven by 25 mph winds. Flames engulfed the home and a detached garage, leaving behind the foundation, Morse said.
Investigators continue to piece together the fire's cause.
Several pets died, but no one else was in the home at the time. Two dogs escaped and were treated by a local veterinarian.
Morse said McAlpin's husband was away on business. The American Red Cross of Northwest Michigan is assisting the family.
McAlpin was a wife, mother and grandmother who had a "true love" for animals, according to an obituary. She was a retired registered nurse.
It's a loss for the community, Morse said.
"We don't have things like this happen in Lake Ann very often," Morse said. "When that happens to somebody here, we try to get around them and rally behind them."