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Couple Die in Durham Blaze

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DURHAM — An electric space heater set too close to aliving room chair has been cited as the cause of a Friday morning blazethat killed an elderly Durham couple.

From the way the bodies were found, investigators believe JohnnieBurnette, 85, was trying to rescue his wife, Mary, 84, when he wasovercome by the smoke. Mary Burnette had been paralyzed since a stroke 10years ago.

A neighbor was alerted to the fire by its popping and snapping sound,and called 911 to the Burnette's Chanticleer Drive home. Other neighborstried to use a garden hose to quell the flames when they found their entrywas prevented by locked doors.

Burnette was pronounced dead at the scene; his wife died several hourslater at the UNC Burn Center.

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