An elderly Lakeport woman died steps from her front door as a fire late Saturday night ravaged her house.

Wilma Neher was found three feet from the door by firefighters who had searched for her outside the house for several hours, the Lake County News website reported Sunday.

Her husband, George Neher, managed to escape, Lake County Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells told the News.

Confusion near the beggining of the fire on Crystal Lake Way may have been a factor in slowing the emergency response.

The News reported George Neher discovered the fire in the garage after the couple had retired for the night. He told his wife to call 911 and then leave, but, Wells told the News, dispatchers later said that the first call they received was from George Neher.

The house was a total loss. Further details were unavailable Sunday. Lake County fire officials, who were at the scene until mid-afternoon, wouldn't comment.

Eighteen Lakeport, Kelseyville, and Cal Fire firefighters responded to the blaze.

To read the News' story, go to

Lake County has changed strategies for its emergency response since the Valley fire:

1. Evacuate earlier. Fires are moving faster in drought-stricken Lake County. Sheriff and Fire officials are taking a more pre-emptive approach to evacuations. “Evacuate early and often.”

2. More notification systems. The county is diversifying the ways it notifies people about emergencies, from buying a new program that can push alerts to cellphones to considering installing air sirens.

3. Redesigned emergency division: Lake County has shifted its emergency services division back to the Sheriff’s Office and hired a veteran emergency manager with wildfire experience from Ventura County.

4. Alternative escape routes: Lake County is planning to require new developments to have more than one way out. The county is also examine more routes out of historic one-way-in, one-way-out communities. Plans for an emergency-only dirt road out of Anderson Springs, where two people died during the Valley fire, are already underway.