71-year-old woman killed in DeKalb County house fire

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A charred, sunken roof marks the spot where flames ripped through the top of this ranch home on Mayfield Drive near McLendon Drive shortly after 4 o'clock Tuesday morning.

A DeKalb County fire captain said a man, woman, and teenager escaped unharmed, but according to the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office 71-year-old Quinnette Ludlam succumbed to smoke inhalation. Her death has since been ruled an accident.

“From an investigative standpoint, that means we still don't know what caused the fire but we do know that her death was an accident from inhaling the smoke, not from happening to her before the fire. This tells us that her death was not intentional,” said Captain Eric Jackson of the DeKalb County Fire Department.

Investigators spent hours searching through the ashes and rubble for clues but said it may be awhile before they can determine exactly what sparked the fire that left neighbors stunned and a family heartbroken.

"This is certainly heartbreaking and although we don't know what went wrong here we do have to remind people how important it is to make sure you have an Escape Route in the event of a fire at your own home," said Jackson.