Investigators still don’t know what caused a fire that killed six people in a mobile home just outside Garland early Saturday morning, according to the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities have not released the names of the six people because the medical examiner is still working to confirm their identities, said Capt. Eric Pope with the sheriff’s office. Pope said the medical examiner’s work is complicated by the number of victims and the state of their bodies.
Bobbie McKiver lives across the street from the home and said her distant cousin, Laura Ann Newkirk, and Newkirk’s son Johnny Newkirk were two of the six who died in the fire.
Garland Mayor Winifred Hill Murphy said Sunday that the victims were Laura and Johnny Newkirk, James Earl Wilson, Andre Smith, Shenelle Nita Robinson and Tayisha Robinson.
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Murphy said not all the victims were related.
A gathering at the site of the fire Sunday evening allowed community members to come together, and Murphy said another will take place later this week.
“It’s just a tragedy for our community, because it’s such a close-knit community,” she said. “We’re all having to support each other.”
Murphy said she has not heard anything about the investigation of the fire and isn’t sure how it could have started.
“I just know it went up really fast, and it was an older home,” she said.
Dispatchers received a call about the fire around 1 a.m. Saturday, and by the time crews arrived at 522 Gibbs Road just outside Garland the double-wide mobile home was engulfed in flames.
Neighbors said they tried to get in the home to help, but it was too difficult to work around the flames.
The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office is working on the investigation with The State Bureau of Investigation and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.