CONNELLY SPRINGS, N.C. – It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for the family inside their now-destroyed Connelly Springs home. A fire early Thursday morning that started in the home’s living room burned so hot it melted a basketball goal on the driveway. Ate through exterior shutters. Left metal window blinds coated in black soot. And most importantly, took the lives of an 11-year-old boy and his six-year-old sister.
Charles Suderno is their grandfather. He says, “I was standing behind the line here, looking straight at the front door, watching the house burn. Knowing my grandkids was laying on the floor inside. I wanted to go in there so bad when I first got here. I tried to and they wouldn’t let me. One of the firemen grabbed my arm and pulled me back. He said it coulda been three instead of two. But I don’t understand why they had to go.”
A state highway patrol trooper arrived before firefighters did. He tried to help, but it was futile. George Hildebran Fire/Rescue Captain Richard Patton says, “(There was) fire coming out all the windows. There was no way to make a rescue attempt.”
Now, as a memorial for the two children grows, friends, family and strangers are sifting through anything that might be left and holding on to memories.
Suderno says, “If you got youngins, hug ’em tonight because they might not be here tomorrow.”
In all, there were ten people inside the home including the mother, father, and sibling of the children who died as well as an aunt, uncle, two cousins and a grandmother. They were all taken to the hospital and have been released. The state trooper who tried to rescue the kids was back on patrol Thursday night.
A stress-management meeting has been offered to the members of the seven fire departments and others who responded to the deadly fire.