No foul play suspected

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 14, 2006

AULANDER – A preliminary investigation into the cause of a fatal fire here last week has turned up very little evidence.

Meanwhile, the three-year-old child injured in the March 7 blaze remains in critical condition at the UNC Chapel Hill Burn Center.

According to Aulander Police Chief Jimmy Barmer, the preliminary investigation conducted by Bertie Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Ed Pittman and agents with the SBI Arson Team resulted in a finding that the fire was of an undetermined cause.

However, Barmer said that finding did not lead law enforcement officials to believe foul play was involved.

“There’s nothing in the preliminary investigation report to lead us to believe that this fire wasn’t an accident,” Barmer said.

That blaze was reported at 9:19 a.m. on March 7 at a singlewide mobile home located at 207 Lombardy Street. Three individuals were at the residence at the time of the fire.

Due to the extent of the injuries she suffered as a result of that fire, Melissa Harrell, age 26, succumbed at the UNC Chapel Hill Burn Center later in the day on Monday. She was first airlifted to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville and then transferred to Chapel Hill.

Barmer said an autopsy was performed March 8 at the Medical Examiner’s Office in Chapel Hill. He said those results are expected in two to three weeks.

Harrell’s son, whose name was not released, as well as Larry Campbell, 21, were also at the residence. Both were taken to Pitt Memorial Hospital. Campbell was treated and released, but the child was transferred to the Burn Center in Chapel Hill.