Harnett minister's wife killed, daughter burned when Christmas tree sparks fire
Posted December 25, 2017 7:11 a.m. EST
Updated December 25, 2017 7:45 p.m. EST
Lillington, N.C. — One woman died late Sunday and a second was burned when a Christmas tree caught fire at a home in Harnett County, Sheriff Wayne Coats said.
Authorities responded to the call at 164 Supreme Drive, outside Lillington, just after 10:15 p.m.
Sarah Beddingfield, 68, was unable to get out of the home and died, authorities said.
Dianna Cole, who lives across the street, said she saw flames shooting through the roof and couldn't believe how quickly the fire spread.
"The whole front porch was just flames," Cole said. "I was like, 'Oh my God.' I ran in the house and told the kids, and I came outside to see what I could do to help."
Coats said the Beddingfield family had been at Christmas Eve services at Memorial Baptist Church in Buies Creek, where Rev. Ed Beddingfield is pastor, on Sunday evening. The tree caught fire shortly after they returned home, the sheriff said.
Ed Beddingfield and the couple's two daughters who were visiting for the holidays, Shannon and Meghan, escaped the fire, but Shannon Beddingfield suffered burns and was taken to North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.
The first and second floors of the home were damaged.
Cole said she had visited with Sarah Beddingfield a few days ago.
"I took her a card and some cookies, and I saw the tree. It didn't look like a dry tree. I just thought, 'Oh, this tree looks beautiful," she said. "She is just a sweet, sweet, sweet woman. I loved her to death. I couldn't have hand-picked a better neighbor, to be honest."
Sharon Delarosa, who moved into the neighborhood a few months ago, said her heart hurts for the minister's loss.
"He was like one of the first people to come by the house and just invite me to church service," Delarosa said.
Fire crews were at the house for about eight hours.
Coats said the fire remains under investigation, but authorities believe it to be an accident.