Local News

Two Young Girls Killed In Fire

Posted January 31, 1996

— February 1, 1996 - 1:25 p.m.

Cumberland County fire investigators say a mother was just trying to keep her two young children warm, but her effort had a tragic outcome.

Four-year-old Dyshee Benjamin and and her 16-month-old sister, Honesty, were killed early Thursday morning when fire gutted the mobile home where they lived with their mother, Matilda Benjamin. She survived, but was badly burned. She remains at the burn center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill in serious condition.

The fire started when some clothing near an oil-filtered space heater ignited in the children's room, sometime before 4 a.m., investigators said.

They said Mrs. Benjamin woke up and opened the door to her daughters' blazing bedroom. Fire rushed out of the room leaving her with burns over 50 percent of her body.

A neighbor, Lynettee Gumby, said she was there when Mrs. Benjamin climbed out a window looking for help.

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"She was just standing there. She had a shirt on. She had no pants, no shoes. She was bleeding. All the skin was burned off of her face," said Gumby.

Gumby said she asked Benjamin if she had any children, and Benjamin repeated several times, "I have two kids."

Gumby's mobile home sustained some minor fire and heat damage. Heat heat from the fire caused windows to break in another nearby trailer.

A passing newspaper carrier managed to gain entry into that trailer and carry out an elderly man who would not otherwise have been able to get out


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