Dunn, N.C. — A toddler died Monday evening in a house fire in Dunn.
The fire was reported at 5:16 p.m. at 817 E. Divine St. and had spread through the structure when fire trucks arrived a few minutes later.
Eight people managed to get out of the house, according to firefighters, but family members realized 2-year-old Jayvalen Blue was still inside. His mother tried to go back inside the burning house, but there was an explosion, officials said. Authorities said the toddler died in the fire.
"That is a baby. That is the thing that touches me the most is when a child is involved in any tragedy,” Monique James said.
James said her cousin came running from her home next door. She screamed that the house was on fire and for her baby still trapped inside.
Family and friends tried to push back against the flames to get to the toddler.
"As we got close to the window and someone was trying, I don’t know who it was, but they were trying to go through it and the heat and fire just threw everybody back,” James said.
The mother sustained cuts to her arms while trying to go back inside to rescue her son. She was transported to Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital and then to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.
"It was just a bunch of smoke and that was all you could really see and it was just flames going up everywhere,” neighbor Tamara Faizi said.
Officials had not said Monday night if they knew what started the fire.