BOISE - A woman is dead, after she was trapped in her home by a fast-moving fire in southeast Boise.
The Ada County coroner says a tentative identification shows that the body is that of Mary Ellen Ryder, and her husband later confirmed the death.
NewsChannel 7 first learned that the woman was missing last night. Ryder is a linguistics professor at Boise State University.
She survived two bouts with breast cancer, according to a 2005 newsletter from the Boise State University Women's Center. Both times, the cancer was caught in stage zero by mammograms.
Her husband said that she was lost in the shuffle as they evacuated their home at 3594 Immigrant Pass.
"We helped him (Ryder's husband) out of the house and turned around to go back in, and house became fully engulfed in flames," Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson said.
"It was pretty horrendous from the way the fire took the house so fast," Ryder's husband Peter said. "I got out because I went out to look and see what was happening. The fire was moving so fast it blocked me from going back in."
Ryder came down to the Boise State University campus to talk to students and friends of Mary Ellen.
"Right now I came down to talk to people who know her and tell them how much I appreciate their sympathy."
Choking back tears, Ryder was mostly at a loss for words.
"Yes, I can't think of much to say," he said. "I'm still pretty numb. She's just a wonderful lady, and I'm going to miss her so much. "
Students reacted to the death, saying she was an extraordinary instructor. Boise State's student government named her faculty member of the year in 1995
"I can't believe they didn't do it every year because she deserved it," student Stacy Hollingshead said. "She's amazing. I feel very blessed to have been able to take her class. It's a shame for people who aren't able to take her class this year."
"Its great teachers that build this university, and we lost one of the greatest," BSU president Dr. Robert Kustra said. " These students who loved her are having a difficult time coping. This is a (big) loss for Boise State. Mary Ellen will never be forgotten, that's for sure."
A scholarship fund is being established in Ryder's name. Details on how you can donate to the form are expected to be forthcoming.
"Words seem immensely inadequate at a time like this," State Board of Education President Milford Terrell said in a prepared statement. "The Board extends our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to the Ryder family at this time. It is difficult to imagine what they must go going through, but our hearts and prayers are with them, as well as with Mary Ellen's colleagues and friends at Boise State."
A fire official said her body was found during a secondary search of the home.
Ryder wrote a poem about her experience with cancer in 2005:
Mirror, Mirror- I always hated my body. My mother hated hers. It's an old family tradition handed down mother to daughter along with the genes of hefty Yorkshire farmwomen and strong Irish washerwomen. "Your body is a temple!" Ha! mine was just a pedestal to put my beautiful brain on and not even good at that.
a routine mammogram five white dots small at the first glimpse of bombs dropping from a clear sky
"-abnormal calcification usually indicate cancer cells" my body abnormal of course
"-exceptionally lucky to be given such an earlier warning" exceptional? my body? again I look at the dots spelling help a message from a castaway hoping I would notice in time and in time I did.
I hug my lovely body. thank god I say thank god we're in this together.
-Mary Ellen Ryder