MERRITT, PAMLICO COUNTY - Funeral services have been scheduled for an elderly Pamlico County man who died in a mobile home fire Friday morning.
According to investigators, 72-year-old Robert "Buck" Elden Gibbs was in his home, at 4293 Florence Road in Merritt, when the blaze erupted at about 6:30 a.m. Friday. Gibbs suffered burns on 90 percent of his body and his home was leveled. He died Friday night at UNC-Chapel Hill Hospital, officials said.
"He was definitely the definition of big brother," Beverly Moore, Gibbs' sister, said. "It didn't matter how far away you were he was always there."
Visitation for Gibbs is set to be held at the Harper Swickard Funeral Home in Charleston, IL, the state where Gibbs was born. It will be on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. at the same venue. Burial will follow at Resthaven Memorial Gardens.
Michael Sos, who had lived next door to Gibbs for eight years, described the victim as a kind man who was always thinking about others.
"When we had Hurricane Irene, he helped people, including me, fix our homes," Sos told NewsChannel 12. "I'm just in shock. He didn't deserve this."
According to Pamlico County Fire Marshal Chris Murray, gas lines in Gibb's home exploded during Friday's blaze. Neighbors who live within a few miles of the scene said they heard the blast.
"I heard a big boom and I actually, at first, thought my husband had fallen out of bed," said Nancy Crain, who lives nearby and saw smoke. "I thought it was a local explosion."
Crews said they found pieces of broken glass and insulation several feet away from Gibb's home.
The State Bureau of Investigation was called in to figure out a cause, but authorities said they do not believe the fire is suspicious. The blaze was put out in 20 minutes.