Local News

Cause of fatal Cumberland Co. fire remains mystery

Posted October 12, 2010 5:51 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2010 6:27 p.m. EDT

— Authorities in Cumberland County said Tuesday they still don’t know what sparked a house fire that killed a 40-year-old woman and her two grandchildren.

The sheriff’s office said Monday that Angela Cox, Kayden Shambach, 3, and Chase Shambach, 20 months, were killed in a home at 8123 Fayetteville Road in Godwin.

Spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said the fire was reported shortly before 5 p.m. by a passerby who noticed smoke coming from the home.

When firefighters arrived, all three victims were dead. Their bodies were taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Chapel Hill for cause of death to be determined.

“It’s a tragedy to the neighborhood, regardless of what the circumstance is,” neighbor Alfonza McNeil said Tuesday. “Just tragedy.”

Cox had been watching the children while their mother was at work at a nearby pork processing plant, neighbors said.

Wayne Lucas, fire chief for the Godwin-Falcon Fire Department said that, to his knowledge, there were no working smoke detectors in the home.

“In so many cases, it makes the difference between life and death,” he said.

Lucas also said firefighters and paramedics who responded Monday were having difficulty coping. One volunteer firefighter told him he wasn’t sure he could continue working.

Grief counselors will be available later this week, Lucas said.

“Anybody has got to feel the pain for the children,” McNeil said. “They've got to feel the pain if they're human.”