Local News

Mother, Firefighters Mourn Infant's Death

Posted January 24, 1999

— Firefighters braved flames and choking smoke to save a family trapped in a burning home Monday morning. Despite their best efforts, one life was lost.

Now, a family is suffering the worst kind of pain. A mother is in critical condition knowing she lost her baby.

The mother who lived in the house in Moncure is in critical condition at UNC Hospitals. She is suffering from smoke inhalation, the same thing that killed her child.

"For Moncure, we've been here since 1966, and this is our first fire fatality that we have ever had. It's pretty traumatic for all of our folks," said Thomas Bender, Chatham County Fire Marshal.

The smoke pouring out of the home overwhelmed the mother and her 8-month-old child.

"Two of the individuals were in one bedroom with the door shut. The other individuals were in another bedroom. One noticed smoke coming out and tried to alarm the other one, and as far as we know, the two individuals just could not get out in time," said Bender.

Rescuers who went into the burning building found it was too late to save the baby.

The split-level wooden structure, once used as a schoolhouse, was quickly consumed as the fire raced through it.

"It had been added on to several times. There was a roof on top that made it extremely hard for firefighters to extinguish it immediately," said Bender.

Another woman and her two children escaped without serious injury.

The loss of the baby took its toll on firefighters after a day that left them physically and emotionally exhausted. They met at the station house to talk about the first fatality they have ever seen.

"We'll get everybody that was involved in it together and sit down and have a discussion and open up the floor for everybody to say whatever they feel like," said volunteer firefighter Danny Wimberly.

Investigators are still trying to find out where the fire started. They say they are leaning toward ruling the fire accidental.

TheRed Crossis helping the woman and children who did escape from the burning house.

A fund has been set up to help the family. Donations can be sent to the following address: Finley Family FundFidelity BankP.O. Box 146Moncure, N.C. 27559

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