CUMBERLAND COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A fire just days before Christmas shatters a Cumberland County family by killing a 6-year-old and injuring three others.
The fire started around 2 a.m. at a home on Carlspond Road.
Ann Roll saw flames spouting from her sister-in-law Faith Adkins' kitchen, so she jumped into action. Roll sprinted outside and over to the house and started banging on her windows to alert the family.
Adkins and her 4-year-old son escaped out of the house but then realized 1-year-old Emma and 6-year-old Allayna were still inside.
Adkins went back in the home. After a few minutes, Roll went in and pulled Adkins and baby Emma from the house. Allayna was still trapped inside.
Firefighters then arrived. They were able to put out the flames but it was too late to save Allayna.
"It just won't be the same this year because you know, I'm missing a family member. And it's a child...her life's cut short and my heart goes out to her mother, because I wouldn't wish the death of a child on my worst enemy. It's a pain like no other," Roll said.
Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said Adkins, her son and infant daughter were all sent to the UNC Burn Clinic in critical condition. On Thursday afternoon, the UNC Burn Clinic told ABC11 that the mother and 4-year-old boy remained in critical condition; the 1-year-old girl had been upgraded to good condition.
Investigators are still trying to determine what started the fire; at this time there's no sign that it was anything more than an accident.
With some of the coldest weather headed to the regional, experts are reminding everyone about heating safety.
"One of the biggest problems I've seen in my experience also has been people plugging especially electric space heaters into power strips or extension cords or plugging them in with multiple appliances."
"Unfortunately a lot of times, you find the correlation between a fatal fire no matter what the cause of fire would be heating equipment, cooking, smoking, whatever the leading causes are in in throughout the year. You find that these people may not have had a working smoke detector and if they had it would have saved their life," said James Pearce who is Raleigh Chief Fire Investigator.
According to data, nearly 80 people per year across US die at home as a result of some type of heating equipment.
"And that's unfortunate, but it's a truth and it continues to be a truth year after year."
A spokesperson for Dominion Energy explains why using a space properly is paramount.
"A portable space heater is designed to heat a home. Not a stove or oven. That is a serious safety issue regardless of if you have an electric or natural gas fired stove," Persida Montanez said.