Two fatalities in separate fires
Posted January 15, 2009 11:05 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT
Benson, N.C. — At least one person was killed early Thursday in a pair of house fires in Johnston and Chatham counties, authorities said.
Fire gutted a mobile home at 830 Woodall Dairy Road near Benson at about 6 a.m., and authorities said one person was found dead inside. The identity of the victim hasn't been released, and investigators haven't determined the cause of the fire.
A neighbor who saw smoke coming from the mobile home reported the fire.
Frank Thornton said he knew the man who lived in the home, and he wept as he watched state and local investigators examined the burned-out home Thursday.
"He was like a brother. He was like my brother," Thornton said. "(He was) good as gold. I mean, he just had a little rough time and stuff."
A 2 a.m. fire at 1232 Luther Road, off N.C. Highway 751 in northeast Chatham County, severely damaged a home, and authorities said there was a body in the rubble. The name of the victim and the cause of that fire also haven't been determined.
The state Department of Insurance said Thursday that at least 24 people died in 4,987 structure fires in North Carolina last year. Officials cautioned people against leaving portable heaters on when they leave a room or go to bed and advised that fireplaces need to have spark-arresting screens.