In an older, quiet Henderson neighborhood there’s a gold Dodge Stratus parked in the driveway of a mint green house in the middle of a cul-de-sac. It’s an older neighborhood where every home is equipped with a carport.
On Wednesday the tranquility at 49 Armstrong Circle ended around 2:30 a.m. when a mother and adult son were found dead after their house caught fire, according to a neighbor.
“The police and fire department banged on my door and just said ‘Fire,’ and that we had to leave” said next-door neighbor Joseph Workman. “I feel terrible for them.”
Workman has lived next to them for 16 years and like the rest of his neighbors, he described the two victims as quiet.
“They ... really just kept to themselves,” said neighbor Nat Jenkins. “They’ve been a staple of this neighborhood since the houses were built.”
The first Henderson Fire Department engine arrived within five minutes of the call to find heavy smoke and fire coming from a window at the front of the home near Burkholder Boulevard and Center Street, according to fire spokesman Jeff Lytle.
The fire originated in the living room, but the cause is still under investigation.
After the fire was extinguished “extremely quickly,” crews discovered two adults dead inside, Lytle said.
Evidence that someone smoked in the 1,000-square-foot home was found inside.
Long-time neighbor Joseph Gonzaque has lived on Armstrong Circle for 43 years and said the two victims had lived there about 30 years.
“I knew them well. Her name was Donna and his name was Ralph,” he said. “It’s sad because all of the neighbors know each other. I can’t believe it.”
Despite the $50,000 in damage to the home, Gonzaque said he was surprised there weren’t more neighbors outside when then fire was going on.
“My wife woke me up and said that something was going on,” he said. “I went out and saw the street was littered with firefighters and police, but not many neighbors.”
The mint green home still stands, but windows are boarded or layered with thick, black char. The brown fence is missing a few planks, and the yard is littered with debris.
Property records show the house is owned by Donna and Brent Griffin. The coroner will release the names and cause of death of the victims.
“It’s just sad because I would help them with the trees in their backyard,” Gonzaque said. “I just waved at him yesterday. I can’t believe this.”
Contact Steven Slivka at SSlivka@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0264.