Local News

Brothers die in Durham house fire after nephew plays with lighter

Posted May 11, 2011 5:59 a.m. EDT
Updated May 12, 2011 3:45 p.m. EDT

— Two brothers died in a Durham house fire early Wednesday after their 3-year-old nephew played with a lighter in the living room and accidentally set the home ablaze, according to family members and police.

Four other people inside the house, including the 3-year-old boy, were able to escape.

Shamiqua Cole, 22, said she was at the house with her children, Antoine Cole, 3, and Ariyonah Parker, 1; her brothers, Larry Cole, 20, and Demaso Cole, 19; and her stepfather, James Moore, when the fire started.

She quickly took her children outside, but as she tried to return to check on her brothers, her children also went back inside the house.

Witness Jesse Dixon said he heard Cole screaming "Oh my God! Oh my God!" just after 1 a.m., and he ran inside and got her children out of the house. 

"The whole front room (was) in flames. Two kids were in the front room where the fire started, so I grabbed the kids, run back out the door, and as soon as I run back out the door, the whole front room and front porch explodes," Dixon said. "I got the kids to safety."

Everyone survived except Cole's brothers, Larry and Demaso. One of the brothers managed to crawl outside, and fire crews pulled the other brother out of the house. Both were pronounced dead at Duke University Hospital.

Dixon said he was unable to help the brothers.

"As soon I get back outside, (Shamiqua Cole) was like, 'There are two more kids in the house,' but I couldn't go back in, because there were too many flames," he said.

Dixon says his decision to run into the burning house and save the two youngest children was simply "instinct."

"Given the circumstances of this fire, it sounds like an admirable job was done," said Deputy Chief Dan Curia, with the Durham Fire Department.