Helen Mach thought she smelled smoke as she was walking her dog this morning.
"She didn't see flames, she just smelled it. She took the dog for a walk around the lake and by the time she had come back, there was flames coming out of the windows," said Mach's granddaughter, Julia Ripa.
Ripa was alerted by a childhood friend that Mach's house was on fire. "'There's flames coming out of your grandma's window.' I was like, excuse me? She's lived here our whole lives. I mean, I grew up here," said Ripa.
Helen was evacuated along with her dog Lachla and her cat. Both animals suffering from smoke inhalation and minor burns. Beth Caron of "Feline Friends" animal shelter stepped in to help care for the animals. "We're going to just take the kitty to the vet and make sure it's ok," said Caron.
Surrounding residents worry for their now homeless neighbor. "I'm sick over it. I'm sick. She was such a sweet lady," said neighbor, Kathleen Biggs. Fire investigators will try to figure out the cause of the fire. Mach, who shares her home with a tenant, has her own theories. "She thinks it might have been a cigarette. The tenant smokes cigarettes, and maybe one was left, because the fire started on the tenants side of the house," said Ripa.
The estimated damage to the house is around $100,000 dollars. According to family and friends, the most important thing, is that Mach and her animals got out safely.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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