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Christmas Tree May Be Cause Of Deadly Clinton Fire

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CLINTON, N.C. — A Christmas tree that was left on overnight may have been the cause of a deadly house fire in Clinton Monday morning.

The fire broke out around 3 a.m. at the home located on Wayne Lane, off Beaman Woods Road. Firefighters from three departments responded. Crews said the home was fully-engulfed when they arrived.

"It's unbelievable. It was like the whole sky was orange," said volunteer firefighter Bobby Phillips.

Officials said Paula Vasquez and her 4-year-old son, Christian, died in the fire. Their bodies were found at opposite ends of the house.

Witnesses said Carlos Vasquez pulled his 8-year-old daughter, Itzel, out of the burning home through a window. He was treated for minor injuries and released from a local hospital. Itzel was not injured.

Officials said Itzel told them that the family left their Christmas tree on overnight; however, the cause of the fire has not been determined. Clinton Fire Chief Phillip Miller said the home was so damaged that they may never know the exact cause of the fire. However, he said the Christmas tree was in the area where the fire started.

Christian was a student at Clinton Head Start, while Paula worked at a local restaurant. Clinton Head Start is collecting clothing for the family.

Investigators said the home was equipped with smoke detectors.

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