Two children died early Thursday in a Burke County house fire that drove back a state trooper who tried twice to save the people inside.
Four adults, including the N.C. Highway Patrol officer, were injured in the blaze on Old Laurel Road, in the Connelly Springs area of southeastern Burke County.
Four people living in the lower level of the brick ranch house escaped injury. The blaze, which was reported about 3 a.m., left the upper portion of the house a smoldering ruin, with the roof partially caved in.
The names of the victims had not been released as of Thursday night, but Charlie Suderno Jr. said the children – a 6-year-old girl and her 11-year-old brother – were his grandchildren. Suderno walked around the destroyed house for several hours Thursday morning, phoning relatives and looking for memorabilia.
Suderno said the 11-year-old spent a lot of time with him and his wife. “He came over every weekend and visited with us,” the grandfather said.
“He was my buddy,” Suderno added, breaking into tears.
There apparently was little anyone could do to save the children. Their bodies were found on the floor of a bedroom on the upper level after the blaze was put out.
The children’s parents and a grandparent were taken to CMC Morganton for treatment.
The cause of the fire has not been disclosed.
Shane Bowman of the Hildebran Fire Department said the initial call indicated that people were trapped in the home. Firefighters found flames coming from the windows, doors and roof when they arrived. It took crews more than a half-hour to bring the blaze under control.
Before the firefighters arrived, an N.C. Highway Patrol officer came upon the scene. Bowman said the trooper tried twice to enter the house but was driven back by the flames and smoke.
“We found the trooper in front of the house,” Bowman said, adding that the officer was suffering from smoke inhalation. The trooper also was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Bowman told reporters that firefighters were not able to make a rescue.
“There was no possible way, given the amount of flames,” he said.
Steve Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle