When Hester Sue opens the basement door and sees the fire, why doesn't she shut it again? (Also, wouldn't the handle have been burning hot when she reached for it? We all remember learning that during fire prevention week in school!) Instead, she leaves it wide open, and the fire springs to the first story, rapidly engulfing everything.
Reply: The flames come barreling out in Hester Sue's face immediately, which doesn't give her the time or the opportunity to close the door again. A bigger question, though, is why didn't Alice Garvey shut the bedroom door when she saw the fire in the upstairs hallway? The viewer can clearly see that the flames were several feet from entering the room. She could have saved valuable minutes, and maybe calmly opened the window and escaped with the baby via the covered porch (which wasn't yet burning) if she had just slammed the door.
Second Reply: Also, given the fact that Hester Sue is normally a very intelligent woman, wouldn't it have been a red flag for her when she saw the clouds of smoke billowing out of the door before she opened it?