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Aulander fire ruled accidental

AULANDER – Law enforcement officials have ruled the cause of a Jan. 16 residential fire near Aulander as accidental in nature.

Delayed by one day due to Thursday’s wet weather, the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office worked with the State Bureau of Investigation on Friday to probe the charred remains of a pre-manufactured home located at 736 NC 11 South Business.

According to Bertie Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Ed Pittman, the investigation alleges that the fire began in the area of the home where the electric furnace was located.

“The fire started underneath the floor at the furnace,” Pittman said. “You could tell that’s where the hottest spot was inside the residence.”

Pittman added that the furnace was studied very closely. He and the SBI agent discovered that one of the heating coils was damaged prior to the outbreak of the fire. Thusly, the fire was ruled accidental.

Michael Freeman, who occupied the home, told lawmen on the night of the blaze that he arrived at his residence at approximately 11:15 p.m. and saw fire coming from the kitchen area.

Pittman said that a call from Freeman to Bertie County 911 dispatch was received at 11:16 p.m. At that time, the Aulander Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched. Despite the firemen’s efforts, the residence was listed as a total loss.

Originally deeming the fire as suspicious, Pittman asked for assistance from the SBI in investigating the cause of the blaze.