By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE - An early morning fire left one woman dead Tuesday after she became trapped inside her home.
It took Gatesville firefighters about an hour to locate the body of Paula Allen, 54, inside her double-wide trailer home located in the 4000 block of East U.S. Highway 84 just outside of Gatesville, according to Fire Chief Billy Vaden.
Gatesville firefighters responded to a call of a fire at 1:18 a.m. placed by Allen's husband, 49-year-old David Allen. David Allen is the pastor of the New Life Church of Restoration, which is located on the property.
Vaden said the home was destroyed by the fire. When authorities arrived, the house was already engulfed in flames.
David Allen told firefighters he attempted to enter the home to save his wife, but was overcome by smoke and flames. Firefighters first checked the bedroom, where he had told firefighters his wife was likely located. Firefighters broke through the wall of the home, but did not find her.
As they moved through the home, they eventually located Allen less than a foot from the front door under a portion of roof that collapsed. Vaden said it appeared Allen had died from smoke inhalation.
Justice of the Peace Coy Latham ordered an autopsy to be performed at the Southwest Forensics Institute in Dallas.
State Fire Marshal's Office investigators are determining the cause of the fire, Vaden said. At this time authorities do not believe Allen's death was foul play, according to a news release from the Coryell County Sheriff's Office.
A fund has been set up to help pay for Allen's funeral expenses. Shirley Pucciariello, the treasurer and interim secretary at New Life Church of Restoration, said donations can be made at the Extraco Bank, 800 E. Main St. in Gatesville.
"We appreciate anything anyone can do for (David Allen)," Pucciariello said. "He lost everything."
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.