Local News

Young Boy Dies in Early Morning Fuquay-Varina House Fire

Posted July 7, 1999

— A young boy died Thursday morning in an early morning house fire in Fuquay-Varina that firefighters say may have been set intentionally.

Around 4:30 a.m., firefighters responded to the blaze that killed five-year-old Tevin Johnson. Johnson died from a combination of burns and smoke inhalation, firefighters say.

Officials believe the fire started near a chair on the porch of the house, located in the 200 block of Lawrence Street. The fire spread so quickly Johnson was unable to escape.

The boy's aunt, Annie Johnson, wanted to "somehow try to get my body on in there and go and get my baby, but the smoke was so black and thick," she says.

Johnson tried to break out a window and save her nephew, and she has the scars to prove it. Johnson is one of two adults and five children who did get out of the house safely.

The five-year-old had been living in the house with his aunt since his mother's death in January. Everyone is dealing with the loss.

"Tevin was a smart little boy," his aunt says. "Whatever you talked about, he could join in the conversation like he already knew."

"It's very devastating," says Fuquay-Varina Fire Chief Mark Melvin, "especially when you have children yourself, and you see this."

"What we'll do is go back and we'll critique the fire with everybody that was here tonight," Melvin says. "The department chaplain has already been by and talked with several people. And we may implement the Wake County Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team, depending on how everybody handles the situation over the next few hours and into tomorrow."

Investigators say there is some reason to believe the fire is suspicious. They are not ruling out the possibility that the fire was set intentionally, and they admit they have questioned some people.

Annie Johnson is not surprised to hear that. "I have some ideas," she says.

The family has been put up in a local hotel by the Red Cross, temporarily. They are still looking for a permanent place to live. Reporter:Mark RobertsPhotographer:Mark Copeland


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