An elderly woman died in a house fire that began around 1 a.m. in Pleasant View.

Family members said 88-year-old Lula Phillips died trying to escape the flames and smoke.

Phillips was a grandmother of five and had four great-grandchildren.

Her grandson, Jeff Hester, noticed the flames and immediately ran to his grandmother’s door to try to rescue her.

It was too hot for him to go inside so he busted open a window but still couldn’t get to her.

“He came outside to try to break open the door to get her, he bust out the window but could not get into it so he cut his whole arm, got burnt real bad all over his legs and arm,” said Judy Hester, one of Phillips’ grandchildren.

Hester said she was woken up by a devastating phone call describing what happened to her grandmother and rushed to her Bradley Street home from Alabama.

"I'm trying to hang in but it's hard. Emotional,” said Hester.

Hester, 36, was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He was treated for a cut and burns to his arms.

While looking at family photos, Judy reminisced about the time she spent with her grandmother.

“We always hung out when I was little I'd always stayed at my grandmother's when I was young,” Hester said. “She taught me reading and colors and things like that."

Her photos are all that's left.

Most of her grandmother's belongings laid on the family’s driveway charred.

“My grandmother isn’t here,” she said. “We’re taking it day-by-day.”

The fire is under investigation by the TBI and the State Fire Marshal.

City officials told News4 the homeowner was given a letter of violation in 2016.

It deemed the grandmother’s apartment an illegal dwelling unit. It didn’t have a permit nor was it inspected.

Hester said she wasn’t aware of the letter sent in 2016.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Hester family.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Multimedia Producer

Kara is an Emmy Award-winning digital producer. She is a Cincinnati native and an alumna of the University of South Carolina. She previously worked at WRDW-TV in Augusta, Ga., before moving to Nashville five years ago to work at WSMV-TV.


Desiree Wiley joined the News4 team as weekend morning anchor and reporter in April 2018.

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