Durham House Fire Kills One
Posted December 30, 1998
DURHAM — Fire officials are spending the day combing through the ashes of a Durham house. They hope to discover what caused the blaze that killed one person, and destroyed the building.
Officials are trying to determine whether the home, in the 400 block of South Driver Street, had electricity. There was at least one smoke detector in the house, but it's unclear whether it was working at the time of the fire.
Doug Henry was one of the first to arrive at the house. "As soon as we opened the door, the air rushed down the hallway, the roof just went up then," Henry says.
When fire officials arrived shortly after midnight, the house was totally engulfed in flames.
Officials say the tenant, Benny Reams, was an elderly man who escaped unharmed. Reams told fire officials there was someone else inside.
Authorities confirm there was one fatality. The body was found in a bedroom where the fire appears to have started.
Neighbor Lillian Jones says a couple was living with Reams, and had been for quite some time.
"The fire department told me it was a woman that perished, a younger woman," Jones says. "It was a younger woman and younger man that stayed over there with him."
Officials have not released the victim's name, but say the body was taken to Chapel Hill for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.