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Worst Fire in 25 Years Kills Four Oxford Family Members

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OXFORD — The Granville County town of Oxford is investigating what is being called "the worst fire in 25 years."

Four people are dead after an overnight fire at an apartment building.

Fire investigators believe smoke inhalation killed Thelma Tapp, 57; William Tapp, 64; Fanny Royster, 72; and Helen Evans, 69. The Tapps were married; Royster and Evans were Thelma Tapp's sisters. All four victims were over 65.

The only survivor was Thelma Tapp's son. Junius Evans says he was downstairs when he was awakened by the fire, but the flames prevented him from getting upstairs and saving his parents and two aunts.

The blaze was reported at 2 a.m. By the time firefighters arrived, flames had engulfed their apartment on Juniper Court, just off Highway 96.

"The flames were coming out of the building and the bottom floor. But the size of the fire was, actually, not that large. But it doesn't take a large fire to kill either," says Chief Lanny Dillehay of the Oxford Fire Department.

There are other units in the building. It is not known if those units were damaged.

At this point, fire investigators say a smoldering cigarette may have caused the fire.

One of the sisters who died in the fire was going to move into a new apartment Tuesday.

The SBI has been called in to help with the investigation.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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