Authorities: Fatal Durham County Fire Not Ruled Suspicious
Posted October 28, 2004 11:14 a.m. EDT
DURHAM COUNTY , N.C. — Family members say a wood-burning stove was the only source of heat for a mobile home that caught fire overnight, killing three people inside.
Richard Clayton, 63, and sons, Jevon, 10, and Sydney, 5, died when fire broke out at their home on Bahama Road just after midnight. The fire is not considered suspicious.
Clayton's wife, Tammy, the mother of the boys, told firefighters she and her husband were awakened by the fire. Her husband told her to call 911 and when she attempted to do so, the phone was not working.
Tammy Clayton ran to a neighbor's house to call for help.
"She heard the windows exploding. She said he kicked out a window in the back room and she thought he was going to throw the kids through it, but he never did," relative Angela Ward said. "She said she heard him scream 'Go get help. Go get help.' So that's why she went to get help."
When help arrived, flames were shooting through the roof. Firefighters said their mission was to get past the flames and to the people trapped inside.
"We were in the end of the house where the least fire was at. We had one end that was involved and we went in and tried to push the fire out the other end and do what we call a primary search," said Chief Len Needham of the Bahama Fire Department.
Firefighters first found the bodies of Richard Clayton and Jevon inside the doorway of the bedroom and hallway. A few hours later, they found the body of Sydney in the kitchen.
Grief counselors were on hand at the boys' school to comfort students.
The Durham County Sheriff's Office said the bodies were sent to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill. Officials said the three victims died from smoke inhalation.
The mobile home is a total loss. Tammy Clayton is being cared for by relatives in Roxboro.
There were no working smoke alarms found inside the home.