Cause of fatal Creedmoor fire remains unclear

Investigators are still trying to determine what started a house fire Wednesday afternoon that killed an 87-year-old woman and her daughter, but they do not think foul play was involved, according to the Granville County Fire Marshal.

Ilene O. Carmack, 87, and her daughter, Cindy Carmack, 49, died in a fire that ravaged their home at 2759 U.S. 15, about a mile north of Creedmoor, fire marshal Doug Logan said Thursday.

Firefighters thought a third person, Cindy’s brother Harvey Lee Carmack, was also in the house, but authorities later found him at work where they conveyed the news to him.

A passer-by dialed 911 about 1:25 p.m. Wednesday after seeing flames coming from the home, said Jimmy Minor, assistant fire chief with the Creedmoor Volunteer Fire Department.

Minor described the home as an old farmhouse that sits out in the open on a hill.

“The wind was blowing real bad,” Minor said. “The house was built with pine lumber, and it got extremely hot. It didn’t take long for it to get fully involved.

“It has a metal roof that pushed the heat down and out,” he said. “By the time we got there, fire was shooting 20 feet out the sides.”

The women apparently tried to escape. Firefighters found them in the rear of the home, just a few feet from the back door, Minor said.

“The daughter had Down syndrome,” he said.

The Carmacks’ nearest neighbor, Jillayne Hollifield, a psychologist who works in Raleigh, said the little family kept to themselves.

“I live next door,” Hollifield said Thursday afternoon, “but I don’t know them at all.”

Hollifield said Cindy Carmack walked away from the house this summer and that teams of people turned out to look for her. After she was found safe, Hollifield said she took jars of jam and a handwritten note to the home to express how happy she was about it.

She opted to leave the gift and note on the porch.

“I left it next to the front door,” Hollifield said. “They didn’t socialize with anyone.”