Wake Forest great-great grandmother, son die following house fire

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WTVD) -- The second person rescued from a burning Wake Forest home died Wednesday morning.

An 86-year-old woman and her son were found unresponsive from a home fire near the intersection of East Walnut Ave. and North Allen Rd on Tuesday morning. The town said both were taken to the hospital where they both died.

Family members identified the woman as 86-year-old Ella Virginia Smith and said she was known in the neighborhood as Grandma Ella. Her family said her 87th birthday would have been this Friday.

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Family members said her grandson's girlfriend noticed the flames around 3 a.m. and started banging on the window to get the woman and her son out of the house.

Smith's son, Lawrence Williams, was in critical condition at the hospital for most of Tuesday but later died.

"I'm trying to be strong, but I want everyone to pray for my family," said Smith's daughter, Ella Wilkerson.

The fire broke out around 3:20 a.m Tuesday. Crews arrived at the house to see the front porch of the single-story home completely engulfed in flames. Family members said her son's girlfriend, who was in the next house, noticed flames and started banging on the window to get Smith and her son out of the house.

The fire was out by 3:40 a.m. A cause for the fire has not yet been discovered, though Wake Forest police are investigating whether the fire was intentionally set.

Wednesday morning, a second fire ignited at the home. It is unclear how that fire started.

Family members said Ella Smith is survived by 12 children, 72 grandchildren and more than a dozen great- and great-great-grandchildren.

Wilkerson said she is grateful for the memories.

"We're going to really miss our mother," Wilkerson said. "I tell you, I wanna break down, but I know my mama saved and going to heaven."
Family members said Smith lived in the home for 60 years. She leaves behind 12 children, 72 grandchildren and more than a dozen great and great-great-grandchildren.

"I loved taking care of her," Wilkerson said. "Especially when I lost my companion and she lost hers. We grew like mother and friend."
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