A 2-alarm kitchen fire claimed the life of an elderly woman in Chester County early Tuesday morning, said officials.
"She was a good lady. She lived a good life, and it's not the way you want it to end," said Joe Paolucci, the woman's next door neighbor.
Mary "Ginny" Arters was a fixture in her community for nearly five decades. She lived in her home at 138 Mount Zion Ave., in North Coventry Twp., since 1965.
It's the end of a long chapter in the quiet community. Arters, 80, lived there for 48 years and she was everybody's grandmother.
"My grandkids and my kids, she was always buying gifts for them. She was just that kind of lady," said Paolucci.
Just before 4 a.m., Paolucci saw a glow through her kitchen window. A North Coventry Township police officer was on routine patrol and saw the smoke. The officer grabbed a hose to try and stop the fire from spreading, said Paolucci.
"That was very lucky cause it could have been way worse if he hadn't been around to see it cause everybody was sleeping," said Allison Richards, who lives across the street.
When crews arrived, it took about 80 firefighters from both Chester and Montgomery counties to bring the fire under control. Investigators said it started in the kitchen.
"She was probably up late at night making some food, something caught fire and it got out of hand," said Ginny's son, who drove up from Philadelphia.
Her son said his mom was a night owl and had trouble getting around.
Neighbors described her as quiet, but she always made a point to think of the kids.
"Yesterday, I got her mail and there was a bag of candy with a note, 'Joe, this is for the kids. Sorry I missed Easter. Make this one Cinco de Mayo,'" said Paolucci.
An autopsy is set for Wednesday morning.
Investigators have not determined the exact cause of the fire.