State News

3 Die in Raleigh Apartment Fire; 2 in Durham Blaze

Posted February 22, 2007 4:57 p.m. EST
Updated February 23, 2007 12:10 a.m. EST

— Authorities found a 30-year-old man, a 26-year-old woman and a child dead in a fire at an apartment complex Thursday on Roselle Court, near New Bern Avenue. They were trying to find the whereabouts of a second child who lived in the apartment.

Earlier in the day, a brother and sister died in a house fire at 1005 Grant St., near North Carolina Central University. Firefighters found the two when they arrived shortly after 4 a.m., city spokeswoman Beverly B. Thompson said.

Thursday night, Raleigh detectives were trying to find out if the other child, who they said is 4½ years old, was with relatives.

Arson investigators set up a crime scene around the building and were looking for clues to how the fire began.

Raleigh Police Capt. Chris Bertram said they had determined "there was no bomb or other type of incendiary device involved."

The identities of the victims had not been released because next of kin had not been notified, Bertram said.

In Durham, Thompson identified the victims as Vera Ashe and Harry Ashe, Jr. a brother and sister. Vera Ashe died at the UNC Hospitals burn center. Her brother died earlier.

The fire was under investigation, but it began in a front living room and appeared to have been accidental as a result of smoking, Thompson said.

The Raleigh fire at the Pines of Ashton complex was reported at 3:03 p.m.

Firefighters discovered the fatalities when they entered the complex.

Other residents were forced from their apartments by smoke, but damage was largely contained to the unit where the three were found, police said.

During the investigation, however, residents were kept out.

"Everything we have is there. It's just me and him. That's all we have," said Bonita Long, who lives there with her 8-year-old son.

Police let her in to get medication for her son. She said that was when she realized it was her neighbor's apartment that caught fire.

"It breaks my heart to know that's who it was, because they were very friendly," Long said.