Local News

Electrical Short Apparent Cause Of Fatal Sanford House Fire

Posted March 6, 2006

— Investigators said Sunday that an electrical short was apparently the cause of a fatal house fire in Lee County on Saturday that killed a family of five people, including a 1-month-old girl.

Which room the electrical short started in, however, has yet to be determined, investigators said, and the fire remains under investigation. They have, however, ruled out foul play.

Authorities responded to the fire

on Lawrence Street

in Sanford early Saturday morning and found the bodies of two adults and three children inside.

The victims were identified as Jorge Ramiro Ramirez-Lopez, 37; his wife Angelica Ernandes, 31; two boys, aged 10 and 6, and a 1-month-old girl. They are believed to have died from smoke inhalation, according to investigators.

Two men were able to escape from a basement apartment, but they couldn't save the family.

According to friends and family, one of the men living downstairs smelled the smoke when he got up early in the morning for medicine. They said he got the other man living downstairs outside, and then went upstairs to try to get the family out.

By then, however, the fire was too strong. Family and friends said the victims were asleep with no chance to escape.

Investigators said it appears the smoke and flames were contained inside the house.

"I looked out the window," said Amber Connor, a witness who lives nearby. "There were police and fire trucks -- I didn't see any smoke.'

The fire chief said there was a smoke detector in the kitchen. However, it is not known whether it was working, even though it had a battery in it.

Family members spent much of Saturday morning sifting through the rubble looking for clothes that could be used for the burial of their loved ones.

WRAL tried to contact the Sanford agency that rents the home, but calls were not immediately returned.


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