Lawrence County woman dies in fire trying to save her pets, authorities say

Published 11:29 am Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Lawrence County woman died after running back into her burning house to rescue her pets, authorities said.

The body of Mary Ann McMahon, 72, was found by firefighters early Wednesday in her home on Forest Grove Road near Halls Creek, said Lawrence County Coroner Sandra Lambert.

Her daughter, Amy Rutland, a science teacher at Brookhaven High School, was taken to Lawrence County Hospital. Her injuries do not appear to be life-threatening, said Lawrence County Sheriff Lessie Butler.

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The bodies of two dogs were found in the burned home, Butler said.

Lawrence County Fire Coordinator Lyle Berard, who is also chief of Monticello Fire Department, said he was alerted to the fire just after midnight Wednesday.

He said it appears the two women escaped the single-story, brick house, but McMahon tried to save her pets.

“They got out of the structure and to the best of my knowledge she went back in to get her pets and she never made it back out,” Berard said.

McMahon’s husband, Patrick, died Thursday. Rutland was staying with her mother after her stepfather’s funeral Monday.

Berard said firefighters were dispatched knowing McMahon had re-entered the home.

“Whenever we got on scene, the house was fully involved,” he said. “We tried to make a few attempts to go inside and try to get to her or get as close to her as we could, the fire was just…, we weren’t able to get in there to her.”

A state fire marshal was on scene Wednesday morning but no cause of the fire has been determined. Fire marshals are called whenever a fire results in a fatality.

Lambert said McMahon’s body was sent to Jackson for an autopsy.