BEAUFORT, CARTERET COUNTY -

A former state representative has died from injuries he suffered when his Carteret County home caught fire Wednesday morning.

According to the Carteret County fire marshal, 85-year-old Ronald Earl Mason passed away at about 10 p.m. Thursday at the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill. He had been in critical condition and on a ventilator after suffering second-degree burns on 15 percent of his body.

Mason was injured when his home caught fire at about 12:20 a.m. Wednesday on Mason Lane, off Highway 101 in Beaufort, officials said.

Mason and his wife, Joyce, were inside the home at the time, according to family. Joyce was able to safely escape the fire. But Mason was still inside the house, prompting his son-in-law, Sam Thompson, to go into the home three times looking for him.

Thompson was eventually able to use a flashlight to find Mason in the dining room, and dragged the man out of the burning home. Mason was taken to Carteret General Hospital before being transferred to the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.

Thompson was not injured, according to family.

Mason's home appears to have suffered heavy damage, but it is not a total loss, officials said. Carteret County Emergency Services Director John Ford said the origin of the fire was in the kitchen. Ford added that although the blaze was accidental, its cause is still under investigation.

Mason was a state representative from 1971 to 1978. He then served as a town manager of Newport in the early 2000s. In addition, Mason served as the fiance chairman for NC GOP.