Updated 7 months ago by Josh Breslow
Investigators are working to positively identify a woman found dead inside of a Harlan County house Friday following a fire.
Crews were called to the scene on Highway 568 in the Cranks community around 1:30 a.m.
Family members of Shirley Madrey told LEX 18 that the 61-year-old lived alone in the home and that they are confident she is the victim.
"I don't know how to explain it but she was gone and I knew it," said Richard Madrey, the son of the woman presumed dead. "I knew something was wrong. I kind of felt it was mom, something with her. I didn't imagine it being this."
Shirley Madrey was an employee at the University of Kentucky Home Place in Harlan. Her loved ones said she made it her goal in life to help those in need.
"I'm still waiting for her to pull up in somebody else's car and go 'what's going on?' But I don't see that," said Richard Madrey. "I don't know what to do without her. I really don't. She was a big part of my life. I'd pick up the phone to call her any time of day and she'd answer."
"It's just a big blow to know that she's not gonna be there," said the woman's cousin, Bessie Carruba. "She was just the greatest person that they could've known. She's not gonna be forgotten. She's just not. She's just that type of person."
More than 12 hours passed and investigators remained on the scene trying to pinpoint a cause. While that cause remains unclear, they have said this appears to have been accidental and that foul play is not suspected.
"We're here for the families and we're sorry for their loss. If they need anything let us know. This is a close knit community and I know everyone will be wiling to help," said David McGill, the director of Harlan County Emergency Management.
"Mom helped a lot of people in this town and a lot of people are gonna be without because they don't have that anymore," said Richard Madrey.
Family members told LEX 18 that the home did not have working smoke detectors at the time of the fire.
Madrey is survived by her son and a grandson. Funeral arrangements are pending.