Grandmother killed in Durham apartment fire


Family and friends told ABC11 49-year-old Karen Timberman died Sunday, two days after a fast-moving fire ripped through her apartment on Morreene Road.

The 911 call came in on Friday just before 6 p.m. With flames blocking her only exit, Timberman closed herself in the bathroom and shoved wet towels under the door while calling for help.

While firefighters were en route, 911 lost contact with her.

Firefighters said that there was a significant amount of fire showing as they first arrived on scene. Crews used a ladder to get inside the apartment because the front deck had burned away.

Some firefighters battled the blaze while others searched and found Timberman unresponsive on the floor. They moved her to safety and allowed paramedics to treat her while they worked to put out the flames.

"We made an aggressive search of the building and during the search, we found her in the bathroom, unconscious and our crews brought her out," Durham fire chief Dan Curia said.

Timberman was transported to Duke Medical Center then later transferred to the burn center at UNC, where she later died. She suffered from smoke inhalation, as well as first and second-degree burns on nearly 35 percent of her body.

Just hours before the fire, Timberman visited with friends at Renegade Motorcycles, one of her favorite hangouts.

"It's just tragic because I just saw her and Mark Friday- she was in here, she brought me lunch," shop owner Armando Angus said.

Angus not only lost a customer, but Timberman was like family to him.

"She was just always a joy when she came in here...loved her son, her grand-baby, she was just a wonderful person," Angus said.

Now her friends at Renegade Motorcycles are planning a benefit motorcycle ride on May 25 in her honor.  

"The benefit ride is to help Mark, because not only did he lose her, he lost everything- he just literally has the clothes on his back," Angus said. "They lost pretty much everything and basically what we're trying to do is remember Karen, remember who she was."

Two firefighters were injured while battling the blaze. One had debris in his eye and the other injured his knee.

The fire damaged three apartments and a vehicle parked in the area. Firefighters have not yet determined the cause of the fire. The home that Timberman shared with her boyfriend Mark is a total loss.

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