Local News

Investigators Determine Vance Co. Fire Was Preventable

Posted October 21, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Firefighters have completed their investigation of Monday's deadly fire in Vance County. They have concluded that the fire and deaths could have been prevented.

Investigators say embers from a woodstove ignited a couch. Within minutes, the house was fully engulfed in flames. Oliver Darden, 15, and her 13-year-old cousin, Sueanne Alston, died in the fire and three others were badly burned.

Firefighters say there were no smoke detectors in the house and that the family had been warned by the fire department before. They were told to move that same couch away from the fireplace last year after firefighters put out a chimney fire.

A Memorial Fund has been set up for the Alston and Darden Families with Centura Bank. Donations can be sent to the Alston and Darden Family Memorial Fund, c/o New Hope Elementary School, 10199 NC Hwy. 39, North Henderson, NC, 27536. Checks should be payable to Alston and Darden Memorial Fund.

The school will also be accepting any clothing or food donated. All donations can be dropped off at the New Hope Elementary at the above address during normal school operation hours.