A second fire in just over 24 hours has taken the life of yet another elderly Sampson County man.
Moses Chestnutt, who fire officials said was about 80 years old, died in the blaze. He lived alone in a double-wide mobile home at 74 Hunt Lane, just off Rowan Road.
An across-the-road neighbor reportedly saw the blaze and called the E911 Center just after 11 p.m. Monday night. When firefighters arrived on the scene, the residence, officials noted, was engulfed in flames. “It was a heavy fire condition, that’s for certain,” deputy fire marshal Prentice Madgar said Tuesday morning.
He and other county fire officials were at the Hunt Lane residence Tuesday morning, continuing to go through the debris, trying to determine the cause of the fire and its origin.
“We don’t know yet where it started,” Madgar emphasized. “There’s not much left to the structure, and we are working right now to sift through it all. The cause is undetermined at this time and the investigation is ongoing.”
The fire was not believed to be suspicious just, as with Sunday night’s blaze, a very unfortunate incident.
“It’s been tough the last couple of days. We’ve not had a fire death in over a year and now two in less than 24 hours. It’s very tragic,” EMS director Ron Bass said Tuesday morning.
One night earlier, on Sunday, 78-year-old Hurbert Frank Underwood died in a house fire on Reedsford Road at the intersection of Billy Lane just outside Clinton’s City limits.
Underwood lived in the two-story house with his brother Freeman Coleman, 70, and both were when the fire broke out.
According to fire marshal Jerry Cashwell, Coleman was attempting to go to his brother’s bedroom on the first floor when smoke stopped him. Coleman was able to escape the house by another exit; his brother was not.
That blaze reportedly started in Underwood’s downstairs bedroom and, though not suspicious, is still under investigation.
In describing the home, Cashwell noted that the structure had changed over the years and had once been a store. There were three bedrooms downstairs and a couple more upstairs in the wood-framed residence. Both brothers, he said, reportedly had bedrooms on the first floor.
The back-to-back fire fatalities are the first two to occur in Sampson County in over a year.