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Mooresville fire victim identified, fire still under investigation

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

MOORESVILLE — Rowan authorities have identified the victim of a Friday three-alarm fire near the Rowan-Iredell county line. Johnsie Overcash Riley, 92, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officials say the fire is still under investigation and have not confirmed whether it was weather-related.

Fire officials were already on the scene when the fire at 155 Yellow Brick Road was noticed, said Rowan County Sheriff’s Capt. John Sifford.

He said officials responded to a downed tree on Deal Road. Firefighters reported a disturbance with a property owner in the area and asked for sheriff’s deputies. Responders saw smoke coming from the house deputies were parked in front of while waiting for Duke Energy to arrive to disconnect the power.

Sifford said that house was the site of the fire at Yellow Brick Road. Firefighters who were still in the area saw flames coming from the front of the house and made a quick entry inside it.

Riley was found 10 feet from the door, in her kitchen. The woman was unconscious. Fire and EMS personnel immediately began CPR, Sifford said.

Daughter-in-law Ann Riley, who lived next door, confirmed Johnsie Riley’s identity. Ann Riley told officials she believed her mother-in-law had heart issues, but she wasn’t 100 percent certain of her medical history.

Ann Riley said she’d just talked with her mother-in-law, who said she was about to take a shower. Moments later, Ann Riley saw what she thought was fog, but quickly realized it was smoke coming from Johnsie Riley’s home.

Ann Riley’s son went next door to check and saw “significant flames,” Sifford said.

Sifford said deputies were told by fire personnel that the home had minor damage, but the front of the home was almost completely destroyed.

Neighbors told deputies that shortly before the fire, their own breaker boxes repeatedly began tripping.

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