Sheriff: Woman died while trying to save father from house fire

Sheriff: Woman died while trying to save father from house fire

EDGECOMBE COUNTY - A woman died while trying to rescue her blind father from a house fire in Edgecombe County Wednesday, investigators said. The father was also killed.

The Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office has identified the victims as Barbara Joiner Harris and Jimmie Harris.

The fire happened at Jimmie Harris' home at 2010 Old Market Road in southern Edgecombe County. The 911 center received the call at about 10:58 a.m. Wednesday.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Jimmie Harris and his wife, both in their 60s, lived at the home. Jimmie was blind due to a prior illness, a relative told NewsChannel 12.

Someone was cleaning out ashes in a wood stove at the home when the fire started, said investigators.

Their daughter, Barbara, lived nearby. She rushed into the home and was able to rescue her mother, said investigators. Barbara then went back inside to find her father, but both appeared to have been overwhelmed by the smoke, the Sheriff's Office stated. The father and daughter were later found dead in the home.

Investigators said they are still working to determine an exact cause of the blaze, but it was likely an accident. The home is a total loss.

We spoke with a family member of the victims. Mary Forbes, a close relative, says she will miss them both. The victims grew up in the area and leave behind many extended family members and friends.

Forbes says she was at work when she got a call from another family member, informing her of the father and daughter's passing. She immediately came to the scene to see the aftermath for herself.

"Both of them loosing their life, you know, I feel like it was a tragedy and it just broke my heart a lot," said Forbes. "Barbara practically lived there because she took care of them she was here everyday."

The Macclesfield, South Edgecombe, Pinetops, Fountain and Sharp Point Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the scene. The Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office, Edgecombe County Rescue Squad, American Red Cross and Edgecombe County Emergency Services went to the scene as well.


Two people were killed in a house fire in Edgecombe County Wednesday, fire officials said.

The fire happened on Old Market Road north of Fountain. Crews got the call at about 11:13 a.m. Wednesday.

According to the Sharp Point Volunteer Fire Department, two people died in the fire. Family members tell NewsChannel 12 the man and woman who died in the fire were father and daughter; the man was in his 60s and the woman was in her 40s. Family members say the daughter lives nearby in Macclesfield and comes to the home to care for her father, who is blind. 

In addition to the Sharp Point VFD, the Fountain Fire Department also responded.

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