Authorities: Gibsonville Fire Was Accidental

11:50 PM, Mar 9, 2013   |    comments
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Gibsonville, NC -Two children died in their bed Saturday morning. 

Four-year-old Matthew Ridge-Powls and one-year-old Jade Hawks were asleep at home with their grandfather when a fire ignited in their living room.

READ:Two Children Killed in Gibsonville House Fire


Investigators says their grandfather woke up when he heard sounds from the flames and immediately tried to get the kids out of their room, but the flames were too big to reach the kids from the inside. the grandfather went outside to try to get in another way.

Someone passing by the home saw the man trying to get in and attempted to help rescue the children. The Good Samaritan is being treated for burns in Chapel Hill.

"You just hope, I've never been on a good call, you just hope they're not as bad as some we go to and we was, were unfortunate today," said Gary Bennett, volunteer firefighter.

Bennett is a volunteer fire fighter in the time he works and lives in. Whenever his station gets a call, there is a chance one of them knows the person involved.

Gary Bennett's phone rang at 6:40 Saturday morning, and lead him to a familiar home on Highway 61 North. 

He is a volunteer fire fighter in Gibsonville. He lives and works in the community so when a call comes in, chances are he usually knows the people involved. 

"That's what makes it especially hard," said Bennet. "The grandfather was in the fire department with us for a while and his dad is our fire commissioner, one of our fire commissioners."

Bennett and his crew tried to stop the fire and save Matthew and Jade but the fire was too big. Their former co-worker had tried even before they got there.

When firefighters did get in the home, they found the children dead in the bed they shared.
"We hated this happened."

A tragic accident made even more painful because of the relationship.

"There are a lot of people in the fire department who have known this man for years and years and years and years that will be checking on him," said Bennett.

It's a firefighter's bond but also a firefighter's reminder for all of us.

"Check your smoke detector. This is a high incident time of year for us at the fire service, the winter months. Be mindful of your heating units, space heaters, wood stoves cleaning your chimneys, general standard safety precautions. Those are the kind of things I would really encourage people to do but above all check your smoke detector," said Mike Wright, Deputy Director, Guilford County EMS.

Authorities say the fire was accidental. They say a space heater caught some of the furnishings on fire.

If you are using a space heater, keep these tips in mind.

Do not put your space heater near your furniture.

Keep them at least three feet from curtains or, bedding and furniture.

Do not put space heaters on carpets or rugs...but keep them on a level surface.

Do not leave heaters unattended.

Make sure you unplug them before you leave a room or fall asleep.

Check the power cord to look for frayed wire or damage.

If you are looking for a new space heater, opt for one with a tip-over safety switch. 

WFMY News 2

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