Neighbor remembers close friend who died in Ensley house fire

Lily Montgomery

"It's a hurting thing," Catherine Crawford said. "It's very hurting. She was so close."

Crawford misses her friend.

"Real nice. Real nice lady," she said. "[She was] very beautiful. Used to talk to her most every day."

She says her neighbor, 81-year-old Lily Montgomery, got trapped inside her house Monday night after it went up in flames.

"At first, the big blaze came out the back, there," Crawford said.

Birmingham Fire and Rescue have not yet released the names or the spelling of the victims of the fire. An official cause has not yet been determined.

Daniel Henry was across the street when the fire started. He says he and a friend ran over and started kicking-in the door.

"By the grace of God, the screen door came open for us," he said.

Once the screen door popped open, he says they were able to reach in and open the front door. But that's as far as they could get.

"As soon as we opened the door a big cloud of smoke came in there," Henry said.

The man, believed to be Larry Montgomery, who is the elderly woman's son, according to Crawford, was taken to the hospital where he later died. Lily Montgomery never made it out of the house.

"I wish I could have did more," Henry said. "Knowing that the old lady was in there, [I] wish I could've did more. That's all I can say right now."

Just across the street, Crawford can't bare to look at the scene from her front porch. She says it's too painful.

"I don't want to," she said. "It's rough to see it like that. It's a hurting thing to see it like that."