An 88-Year-Old Woman Is Killed in Floral Ct. Blaze, 1st Palm Coast Fire Death in 5 Years
FlaglerLive | November 15, 2012
Edith and Nathaniel Moss bought their property at 8 Floral Court 31 years ago, built a house there, moved down from New Jersey–Nathaniel was a salesman–and have lived there since.
Just after midnight Thursday, Edith, 88, called 911 to report a fire in her garage. It’s not clear how the fire started. The dispatcher told her to leave the house. She said she couldn’t: she walks with a walker or a cane, and her health had been failing severely for the past several months.
“Crews arrived and found the garage fully involved,” Palm Coast Fire Chief Mike Beadle said. “When the deputies got on scene they tried to make entry in the house but heat and smoke drove them back. So they had to wait for the first fire crews to get on scene.”
Some of the crews were clearing from another fire call, and went straight to Floral Court. The first crew arrived knowing there was somebody inside, and started a search of the house. A second crew started working the fire. “First crew found, during the search, an 88-year-old victim in a back bedroom on one side of the house”–Edith Moss. She was next to the bed,on the floor. The walker was near her. “They removed her and administered first aid and got her loaded in a Flagler County Rescue unit and headed to the hospital.”
She died on the way to Florida Hospital Flagler.
A third crew picked up the search where the first crew left off, and found Nathaniel, who was taken outside, given first aid, then taken to Florida Hospital Flagler, where he remains in critical condition, in intensive care, in an induced sleep.
“The fire never got into the living quarters of the house. It was contained to the garage area and part of the attic of the house,” Beadle said. “I do have to commend the crews for doing an outstanding job and containing the fire. It’s very unfortunate that we had a fatality out of the call.” It is the first death from a fire in Palm Coast in at least five years, Beadle said. The last fatality was the result of a fire also in the F Section, he said, recalling a blaze on Fleetwood Drive.
The state fire marshal’s office is conducting the investigation. “We don’t have a cause at this time, we do know it was in the garage,” Beadle said, “and again, our condolences to the family.”
Looking at the west side of the house you wouldn’t know that it had been in a fire. The house and the roof looked virtually intact, if it weren’t for two boarded up windows on that side. The lawn was intact, too, its palms and hedges still lush and untouched by the telltale signs of searing heat–those signs that blackened the eastern-front side of the house, its garage and roof and side wall. Edith’s tan Chevy, a charred, skeletal hulk sat in front of the boarded up entry to the garage. The roof there had caved. But damage is very light in the living areas of the house, its south end facing a canal (and, across the narrow canal to the northeast the property of Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts).
At about 4 o’clock, Roy Schaffer, 87, a nearby resident and friend of the Mosses for the past 25 years, drove by slowly, and stopped to speak about his friends, wondering what could have happened. He was surprised to see only Edith’s Chevy. Nathaniel had a White Chrysler. It was nowhere. Schaffer guessed he may have just sold it. He described the couple as no longer that active, its circle of friends now small and their activities restricted because of failing health.
“They loved to play bridge,” Schaffer said. “They had a bridge group they played with, but she’s been pretty ill for the past six months. He and I used to walk every day. We’d walk along the river. And you know what he said to me? He’s 95 and I’m only 87, he said to me, come on, come on! In the past year, he could hardly walk. He just got old all of a sudden.”
They had a couple of kids, grandchildren–including twin grand-daughters. “He was heavily involved in the stock market, still, oh yes. He’d spend half a day on the computer just with the stock market, and he was good at it until about a couple of years ago when the economy started to drop. But he was still manipulating. I’d see him at least once every week, once every two weeks. I was going to call him tonight just to see what’s happening. But she was going downhill.”
Schaffer, a native of Brooklyn who spent 31 years on Long Island before moving to Palm Coast about the time the Mosses did, had spoken with someone at the hospital earlier in the afternoon to get an update on Nathaniel’s condition. Toward the end of the conversation, he recalled an recent issue in the couple’s garage.
“The garage, they had a double-door lock in there,” Schaffer said. “In fact a couple of months ago he called me over because he couldn’t get the garage door inside to open to go into the house, so I came over, I had a hack saw, took the knob off, then we put a new knob. But he called me, they were sitting in the garage, in the car, couldn’t get in.”