Woman dies after apartment fire

Apr. 29, 2013 @ 07:47 PM

DURHAM – A woman who suffered extensive burns while trapped in an apartment fire died at UNC Hospitals, officials said Monday.

Karen Timberman, 49, died Sunday night at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, according to Tom Hughes, a spokesman for UNC Health Care.

Durham firefighters Friday evening pulled Timberman from her apartment – Yester Oaks Apartments at 936 Morreene Road, a few blocks from Duke University’s West Campus.

Officials said Timberman had been resting at the time, and couldn’t escape because the entire front of her apartment was on fire. She went into the bathroom and shoved wet towels under the door while calling 911.

Durham Fire Chief Dan Curia said Timberman suffered smoke inhalation and first- and second-degree burns on 35 percent of her body.

Firefighters used a ladder to get into the apartment, because the front deck had burned. While some firefighters battled the blaze, others found Timberman unresponsive on the floor. They moved Timberman so that paramedics could care for her.

“She was a good person,” neighbor Jacquis Bullock said. “She was very friendly.”

Bullock, who moved from Michigan to Durham in September for a nursing job at Duke Medical Center, said Timberman was the first person she met here.

“I was able to talk to her about anything,” Bullock said. “I don’t really have any family here, so she was like my first friend.”

Bullock said Timberman worked as a cashier at a Food Lion. She said Timberman suffered from heart problems, and moved to the apartments to be near Duke University Hospital, where she was being treated.

“She used to ride a motorcycle around town,” she said. “She seemed pretty active. I know she will be missed.”

Bullock was one of several residents displaced by the fire. She said Monday she is living temporarily with a friend, but probably won’t move back into her apartment because of extensive construction that will have to be done at the complex. The Red Cross is providing housing to others left homeless.

The cause of the fire, which damaged three apartments and a vehicle, was being investigated Monday.