Firefighters were called to the house fire on Arlington Street, near George Street, around midnight Saturday.
The victims include: 49-year-old Bob Hardy, 14-year-old Curtis Moore, 14-year-old Antwain Lane, 7-year-old Steve Moore, 2-year-old Michael Coleman, 14-month-old Melvin Harvey Jr. and 4-month-old Kenyis Moore.
"We did find one victim on arrival. We brought him out and tried to work on him with resuscitation but were unable and we ended up unsuccessful," said Fire Chief Kenneth Mullen.
Four of the children were found in one bedroom; the others were found throughout the house.
Fire officials say the fire may have started in the attic. Firefighters say the heat and flames were so intense that it melted the plastic shields of their fire masks.
The house's owner, Farouk Hamed, was on the site Monday. He had been told to board up the gutted house and he was doing so. He said there was a working battery-operated smoke detector in the house installed six months ago.
However, several family friends said they had not noticed any detectors in the house.
"There were no smoke detectors," says Demetrice Moore who lived at the house. "It wasn't furnished with any smoke detectors. Anyone who says we did have smoke detectors would be lying."
City inspection records show the house has not been inspected since January 1998. At that time, no inspection was required. Chief Mullen said no detectors had been found in cleaning out the fire debris. Officials believe 16 people were in the house when the fire broke out. Those who escaped unhurt say they smelled smoke and ran outside.
Survivors are talking to investigators, who have yet to determine a cause or why so many were able to escape from the home. Chief Mullen says they are still piecing together the details.
Friends and neighbors gathered outside the home Sunday. They were stunned by the news and saddened for the family that lost so much in one night.
Neighbor Clinton Nixon spoke with one of the adults who survived.
"They were trying to get the children out," he says. "They got a few of them out but I think they were too heavy for them and they couldn't see and couldn't find them."
Neighbors and an off-duty police officer called in the fire. The Rocky Mount Fire Department, Rocky Mount Police Department and the SBI are investigating. While foul play is not suspected, the SBI was called in because of the number of deaths.
A memorial fund has been set up for the family. Donations can be made at any BB&T branch or mailed to the following address:
Moore Family Memorial Fundc/o BB&TP.O. Box 2568Rocky Mount, N.C. 27802 From staff and wire reports
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