Local News

Goldsboro couple dies in house fire

Posted December 4, 2008 5:52 p.m. EST
Updated December 5, 2008 12:33 p.m. EST

— Investigators said Friday they were still unsure of what sparked a fire that killed a couple inside their Goldsboro home a day earlier.

But Fire Chief Cary Whaley said there was no reason to believe the fire was a result of arson or other foul play.

Flames broke out at the home of Joseph Wiggs, 54, and his longtime girlfriend Hilda Allen, 64, at 1506 Dakota St. at about 3:30 a.m.

Whaley said the one-story house was engulfed in flames when firefighters got there. Wiggs and Allen were found dead inside the house.

Family members said the couple was asleep when the fire started and that neither had much of a chance to get out alive.

"They were both sickly," Allen's brother, Howard Howell, said.

Wiggs had trouble with his heart and lungs, his brother, Gordon Wiggs, said, and Allen had trouble with her legs.

Family members said the couple struggled financially and lived month-to-month on Social Security benefits and income from small jobs.

"They lived hand-to-mouth," Gordon Wiggs said. "She did a little yard-selling, stuff like that, to try to make ends meet."

Gordon Wiggs said he last saw the two on Thanksgiving.

"We're going to miss them both very much," he said. "But I know they're in a better place now."

Wiggs and Allen leave behind four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Their bodies were sent to the Office of the state Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill for autopsies. Goldsboro police and fire investigators and State Bureau of Investigation agents continue probe the cause of the fire.