Local News

Brothers die in Durham house fire after nephew plays with lighter

Posted May 11, 2011
Updated May 12, 2011

— Two brothers died in a Durham house fire early Wednesday after their 3-year-old nephew played with a lighter in the living room and accidentally set the home ablaze, according to family members and police.

Four other people inside the house, including the 3-year-old boy, were able to escape.

Shamiqua Cole, 22, said she was at the house with her children, Antoine Cole, 3, and Ariyonah Parker, 1; her brothers, Larry Cole, 20, and Demaso Cole, 19; and her stepfather, James Moore, when the fire started.

She quickly took her children outside, but as she tried to return to check on her brothers, her children also went back inside the house.

Witness Jesse Dixon said he heard Cole screaming "Oh my God! Oh my God!" just after 1 a.m., and he ran inside and got her children out of the house. 

"The whole front room (was) in flames. Two kids were in the front room where the fire started, so I grabbed the kids, run back out the door, and as soon as I run back out the door, the whole front room and front porch explodes," Dixon said. "I got the kids to safety."

Everyone survived except Cole's brothers, Larry and Demaso. One of the brothers managed to crawl outside, and fire crews pulled the other brother out of the house. Both were pronounced dead at Duke University Hospital.

Dixon said he was unable to help the brothers.

"As soon I get back outside, (Shamiqua Cole) was like, 'There are two more kids in the house,' but I couldn't go back in, because there were too many flames," he said.

Larry Cole Brothers die in Durham house fire

Dixon says his decision to run into the burning house and save the two youngest children was simply "instinct."

"Given the circumstances of this fire, it sounds like an admirable job was done," said Deputy Chief Dan Curia, with the Durham Fire Department.


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  • rider560 May 12, 2011

    jbarron4950, some white folks have to be somewhat racist to keep the racism coming from people like you in check.

  • rider560 May 12, 2011

    "no matter good or bad someone always show their true colors about how they feel about black people on this site!" wakemom

    For real? You can't be serious. You are the first person to comment on this story to bring up race. Check your attitude and work to stop racism where it really begins - with people like yourself……k8ered

    Not trying to be smart or disrespect you - But Wakemom, I've read all the comments (twice) and dont see a single comment about race, except yours......Please explain!.....Butterflies

    wakemom, that's funny you should point that out. They have no problem showing their true colors about how they feel about white people on this site either but you don't seem to worried about that. Wonder why? I personally think it's just that you're a racist. Iworkforaliving

    Wakemom was exactly CORRECT. k8ered, Iworkforaliving and Butterflies, ALL of you need to shut the he!! up unless you KNOW what you are talking about. I saw the comment as well and it has been deleted. It's f

  • mego May 12, 2011

    I too have to ask why was the 3 year old up at 1:00 & how did it get a hold of a lighter, but before I start pointing fingers and blaming people I must remember that I wasn't there and I don't know the entire story. The child could have crawled out of his crib and was wondering around the house and found the lighter, because kids will find things even if they are supposedly hidden.

    Now it is possible that the lighter started the fire and it came from the 3 year old playing with it. It could have possibly been turned into a crack lighter (where the silver top came off) & he could have set it off very easily just by banging it on a table or something. When I used to smoke cigarettes I once had a lighter where the silver top had came off that caught on fire and I did nothing more than light a cigarette.

    Either way 2 lives have been lost, so until more evidence is given I am going to choose to not point fingers and pray for the family during this difficult time.

  • computer trainer May 12, 2011

    From the N&O- Lamont Roper, 19 (when did the drinking age change?), drank from a tall beer wrapped in a paper bag. He said the brothers liked to play basketball on a nearby court and "chill and walk" the neighborhood.

    Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/05/12/1192073/fire-that-killed-two-blamed-on.html#ixzz1M8xcc7Ro

  • keeahmee May 11, 2011

    Is it just me or does this story not make sense why was the child not sleep,why didn't the mother know where the child was-when the mother went in the house and the children followed her why is it that a neighbor had to run in and get the kids.I do not believe the three year old set the fire.

  • same ole story May 11, 2011

    I sure hope that this so called mother can live with herself after this. WHAT IS A 3 YEAR OLD DOING UP AT 1:00 IN THE MORNING?????? Those two innocent teens souls are on her hands. Thankfully the neighbor was there to help the little kids out of the fire. They need to be taken away and put in a better home than that!!!!

  • autismawareness May 11, 2011

    parenting 101.
    what is going wrong with this country?

  • MudLife May 11, 2011

    How does a 3 y/o have the strength to even get the lighter started. Sometimes it takes some strength to even get one of them things going. And it seems the whole house was apparently up at 1 AM anyways so how did they not know there was a fire. It seems strange to me and on another note there should have been smoke detectors in the house to let the them know their house was on fire if they were asleep.

  • mjlt3 May 11, 2011

    My heart goes out to the family, freaky accidents do happen but what was a 3 yr. old during with a lighter and do a 3 yr old know how to flick a lighter? and why wasn't those kids in sleep? I'm just saying ...... Child Protective Services where are you?

  • Amused May 11, 2011

    "What is wrong with placing responsibility for an unpreventable tragedy?" ~Amused May 11, 2011 1:40 p.m.

    Um, Amused, do you know what the word "unpreventable" means?

    This was completely preventable. Childproofing 101 - put out of reach anything a child should not have access to. Not making sure that the lighter was safely put up out of the reach of children is just as bad as handing it to the child. The stickers on lighters even say KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.

    This was 100% preventable.

    Should have typed "preventable".