A 76-year-old Clinton man has now been identified as the victim in a Saturday night structure fire, even as the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office and State Bureau of Investigation continue their probe into the fatal blaze being called “accidental.”
Sidney Ray Ashley, 76, of 63 Harper St., died Saturday inside the home, the lone victim in the fire. He, his daughter and grandson were reportedly at the home at the time, Emergency Management director Ronald Bass said Monday.
“We are still investigating it,” said Bass. “It did seem to be an accidental fire.”
While there has not been an exact cause determined, Bass and sheriff’s investigators concurred that no signs pointed to foul play.
“Nothing we found led us to believe it was suspicious in nature,” Bass noted.
According to Clinton Fire officials, at 10:16 p.m. Saturday, the department was dispatched to a structure fire at 63 Harper St., just outside of the city limits on N.C. 403. Units with the Clinton Fire Department arrived “within four minutes to find fire visible from the structure,” according to a statement from Clinton Fire Chief Scott Phillips.
A resident at the scene told firefighters one of the occupants was still inside and a search of the home was able to locate the victim as a result. Turkey and Halls fire departments provided assistance and the fire was suppressed. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation and the victim’s name was initially withheld by authorities.
The SI was subsequently able to confirm that Ashley was claimed as a result of the fire, which appeared to originate at the back side of the home. There were charred portions of the residence visible from the road, but the front of the home did not look affected from the outside.
“There were three individuals,” Bass said, “a grandfather, his daughter and his grandson. The grandfather was killed in the fire. The (two others) made it out with no injuries other than some smoke inhalation. They refused transport by EMS.”
The Halloween fire comes less than two months after another fatal house fire on Labor Day weekend at 100 Irvin Road, Autryville, claimed the life of 56-year-old Sheryl Jackson.
Although there are no indicators of foul play in Saturday’s house fire, the exact cause is still under investigation.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.