Local News

Jacksonville Man Remains In Critical Condition After Fire That Killed Daughters

Posted December 6, 2003 10:32 a.m. EST

— An Onslow County man whose three young daughters died in a house fire remained in critical condition Saturday.

Rodney Hurst, 31, was in the UNC Hospitals burn center in Chapel Hill, where he was taken following the Friday morning fire.

Emergency officials said Hurst, who had tried to rescue his family, received second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body.

Hurst's daughters -- ages 2, 3 and 10 -- all died in the blaze, which investigators said was caused by an electrical short in the attic. The fire caused the home's ceiling to collapse before the girls could get out, according to investigators.

Hurst's wife, Elizabeth, a 7-month-old infant and a 12-year-old were treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation.

The names of the young victims were not available Saturday; a person at the Onslow sheriff's office said no one was around to discuss the case.

Family acquaintances said the name of the 10-year-old was Heather, a student at Summersill Elementary School.

Shirley James, who teaches math and science at the school, said Heather never hesitated to help in the classroom.

"She would always ask if there was anything she could do to help," James said.

A school crisis team was scheduled to be on campus Monday to provide support.

Raymond Pfeil, the fire chief of the Half Moon Volunteer Fire Department, which battled the fire, said firefighters had also scheduled counseling sessions for themselves.

"We very seldom have anything like that," he said.

Rodney Hurst had been stationed at Camp Lejeune when he was in the Marines. Elizabeth Hurst has several relatives in the Jacksonville area.

Red Cross workers met with the mother and other relatives and were planning to provide shelter, food and clothing, according to Lori Brill, a county spokeswoman.