UPDATE: Elderly couple killed in Richmond house fire identified, fire caused by ‘smoking materials’


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A married couple in their mid-80s were killed in a house fire in Richmond’s East End this morning.

Fire Marshal Earl Dyer told 8News that Richmond firefighters responded to the scene around 8 a.m. in the 1400 block of Vinton Street after a neighbor spotted the fire.

Dyer said the victim’s bodies were found in the back of the house. According to Dyer, most of the fire was contained in the living room.

Fire officials identified the victims on Tuesday afternoon as 84-year-old Clara Humphrey and 84-year-old Ray Humphrey.

Firefighters found Clara Humphrey first and brought her outside. Ray Humphrey was found second and also brought outside of the home.

Firefighters performed CPR on the Humphreys but they both died at the scene.

A release from the fire department stated that the couple was hearing impaired.

Their neighbor Malaika Greene said she used to cut their grass for free. She said that Clara Humphrey was unable to hear or speak and Ray Humphrey couldn’t hear as well so she checked on them often.

She said she saw smoke coming from the house and knocked on the back door but no one answered. Firefighters arrived around the same time and knocked down the front door and found the victims inside.

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Two people were killed in a house fire on Vinton Street in Richmond Tuesday morning. (Photo: 8News Autumn Childress)
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Two people were killed in a house fire on Vinton Street in Richmond Tuesday morning. (Photo: 8News Autumn Childress)

The Richmond Fire Department determined the fire was caused by “improperly discarded smoking materials.” After inspecting the home it was determined that there were no working smoke alarms inside of the house.

“I ask that you pray for the families, their loved ones, their community where they resided, and our city in that we will continue to embrace fire safety education, the importance of smoke alarms, and having exercising proper safety protocols,” said Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services Chief Melvin Carter. “These deaths, like most fire deaths, were preventable.”

The couple’s death brings the fire fatality toll up to 11 in Richmond this year.

An investigation is underway. Stay with 8News for updates.

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