While the fire left the house standing, it created enough smoke kill Timothy Pitt.
Firefighters found Pitt partially hidden in a bedroom closet. Family members say the mentally-impaired man may have been trying to get away from the fire in the next room but could not escape the smoke.
Charles Hunter, Chief of the Whitakers Fire Department, says the death was due to smoke inhalation in all probability. "The fire was contained to a back room that was a utility area," Hunter says.
Firefighters say faulty wiring or a bad appliance may be to blame. Investigators say the house did not have a smoke detector, so Pitt and his sister, who was asleep at the time, had very little warning.
Pitt's sister managed to escape, but was not able to get close enough to save her brother.
Pitt's pastor says the death is taking its toll on the closely-knit family, especially in the midst of the holidays.
"They are shocked," Pastor Alice Dickens says. "They are all hurt. They are stung. I can see that and I can tell that. It's a very, very real loss. At the time when joy should be prevalent, it seems that sorrow is more outstanding at such a time as this."
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