“The Best Grandmother” Killed in Riverside County House Fire: Family

Neighbors said the woman was likely trapped on the second floor of the building during a fire than began on the lower level

A Southern California family was mourning on Tuesday after a woman described as "the best grandmother anybody could ask for" was found dead after a house fire.

Norma Perez, 66, was found inside a home that burned in the southwestern Riverside County community of Murrieta, according to her family.

"Caring, giving, loving, you name it, she was it," said Perez's granddaughter Rene Gutierrez. "She was the best grandmother anybody could ask for."

The fire erupted about 6 a.m. and burned the first floor of a two-story house on Palma Vista Street in Murrieta.

The victim's husband, Richard, escaped the house, but firefighters found the deceased woman on the second floor.

She was likely trapped on the upper level, according to neighbors who said they could hear screams for help.

"She can't walk good," Marie Vespo said. "She's very frail, real tiny woman."

Witnesses say the smoke and flames made it impossible for anyone to rescue the woman, and by the time firefighters were able to reach her, it was too late.


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"She was an awesome mom, and I loved her with all of my heart," daughter Toni Estrada said. "And nobody could replace her in my heart."

Details regarding a cause of the fire were not immediately available. Both residents are in their 70s, according to area residents.

Family members arrived at the damaged home Tuesday morning to mourn Norma Perez, described by neighbors as a kind and caring person.

The husband suffered smoke inhalation, according to fire officials.

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