TUCKER, Ga. - Family members claim a cigarette or a candle likely started a fire that killed a Tucker woman late Wednesday night.
Joy Nesbitt told Channel 2's Shae Rozzi that her sister's clothes caught on fire when she fell asleep in her favorite recliner and then tried to run to the bathroom to put out the flames.
"She was on fire, yes she was. She was on fire as she was going down the hall," Nesbitt said.
Ruby Jo Eskew, 63, died as paramedics brought her to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
Flames spread from her clothing and throughout her home on Sheffield Place in Tucker Wednesday night.
Eskew's daughter and son-in-law, who were living in the basement, were able to escape with their three dogs, Nesbitt said.
She said the flames were too intense for them to go upstairs and rescue Eskew and her two dogs.
Relatives spent Thursday trying to see what they could salvage from the home that's been in their family for generations.
"Here's an old Bible that she had as a child," Nesbitt said as she showed Rozzi the Bible with a burned cover and burned edges.
A stack of framed pictures and blankets knitted by Eskew were also recovered.
"Out of 50 years of memories, this is what's left," Nesbitt said.
She said their parents bought the home 50 years ago when she and her sister were little kids.
"We can point to trees and there's just a story behind every tree in this yard," Nesbitt said.
She said losing the home filled with so many memories only adds to the heartache of losing her sister.
"We got a big family and we're all close. This is very hard for us," Nesbitt said.
According to family members, the fire chief said it'll take until Saturday before their investigation is complete and a cause can be determined.