SBI probes fatal fire

Published 2:28 pm Monday, January 4, 2010

WOODLAND – The State Bureau of Investigation has launched a probe into a residential fire that claimed the life of an elderly woman here Saturday afternoon.

Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent said 75-year-old Gladys Faye Conner of Lot 91, Arrowhead Mobile Home Park died as a result of the fire. The park is located off NC 35 between Woodland and Potecasi.

“There was nothing about the initial investigation of this fire that would raise any suspicions, but we followed protocol by having the SBI investigate,” Sheriff Vincent said. “It’s normal to have the SBI investigate a fire where a fatality is involved.”

Vincent added that Conner was home alone at the time of the mid-afternoon blaze. He said her body was located in the living room area of the single-wide mobile home.

“Her body was sent to Greenville for an autopsy in order to determine an exact cause of death,” Vincent said. “We are waiting for the results of the autopsy.”

Woodland Fire Chief Cleve Bowen said the home was fully engulfed upon the arrival of his department.

“With the wind whipping like it was on Saturday, this fire could have threatened other structures, but we were able to knock it out shortly after we arrived,” Bowen said.

Woodland sent three engines and 16 firefighters to the scene. The Conway Volunteer Fire Department also responded, sending one engine and 13 men.

This marked the second fatal residential fire in the Roanoke-Chowan area in the past month. On Dec. 20, George Woosley, 41, died in a Gates County blaze at a two-story, wood framed farm house located at the intersection of NC 32 and Daniels Road.

Several attempts were made by the Sunbury/Corapeake firefighters to gain access to the burning structure in an attempt to rescue Woosley, but it was unsafe for them to do so until after the blaze was extinguished. At that time, Woosley’s body was found in the second story area of the home.