Family salvages pieces of veteran's life after storm, fire

Posted March 7, 2011 6:51 p.m. EST
Updated March 7, 2011 7:03 p.m. EST

— The storms that rolled through Wake County late Sunday caused a house fire in Rolesville that destroyed many memories of a Word War II veteran but not his life.

Cecil Bell, 85, was home when the fire started and tried to extinguish the flames on his own, his niece, Nelda Rose, said Monday.

"He heard a noise, (and) when he came in (the bedroom), the bed was on fire," Rose said. "He said he took a pillow and was trying to beat the flames, and he realized he couldn't get them out."

Bell tried to escape the house but collapsed inside the back door.

Luckily, neighbor Lafayette Denton saw the fire and came to Bell's aid, Rose said.

"When (Denton) looked down, he saw his shoes lying here at the back door. So, he was lying at the back door," she said.

"We got him and brought him under the carport until the rescue squad got here," Denton said. "I was just telling him that everything was going to be all right."

Bell was being treated Monday at WakeMed for smoke inhalation and was expected to make a full recovery.

Investigators said they believe a live electrical wire hit the house and sparked the fire.

Rose combed through the rubble of the house Monday to recover pieces of her uncle's life, including a Gold Star and Purple Heart he won in World War II, a family history, a Bible and a special photo.

"(It) is a picture of him and his wife in a card I gave them on their anniversary," Rose said.