Woman dies in early morning fire in Oak Island

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

OAK ISLAND, NC (WECT) - A memorial service will be held this weekend for a woman who lost her life to an early morning fire earlier this week.

Authorities say the flames sparked around 5:30 Tuesday morning at a home on 79th Street in Oak Island.

Firefighters found they body of 51-year-old Trina Villarreal lying in a hallway in the rear of the home.  It appears the woman was trying to escape the home.

Villarreal's daughter, Christina Grindstaff, describes her mother as a free spirit, now that her mother's spirit is in heaven.

"She loved us very much," said Grindstaff.  "She loved it hear, and she loved her dogs.  She was in a good place."

Not only did Villarreal lose her life early Tuesday morning, her bird and two dogs didn't survive the fire either.

"We all ran out here," said neighbor Lissa Stroupe.  "We were beating on her trailer to get her awake, and we didn't get any response out of her or get her out or anything."

Firefighters say they think a cigarette may have caused the blaze.

"She was a smoker," said fire chief John House.  "All the indications we have gotten, and from the looks of the couch, it looks like she fell asleep with a cigarette."

Villarreal was a well known employee in the deli of the Oak Island Food Lion, which is the only grocery store on the island.

"I know she was a happy person," said Mayor Johnnie Vereen.  "She was a credit to Food Lion.  She made her customers feel good.  She took care of us and always knew what I wanted, when I walked to the counter.  That's pretty neat, and it only happens in a small community like this."

"Everybody loved her," said Grindstaff.  "She loved it here.  She loved the community here.  She road her bike to and from work.  She didn't drive.  She loved walking on the beach.  She was in a really calm place in her life and wouldn't trade it for anything."

A memorial service for Villarreal will be held Saturday afternoon, April 25 at 2:00 at the Oak Grove Presbyterian Church on Carolina Beach Road.

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