HEATHER ABBOTT/Lake Gaston Gazette-Observer

Firefighters work to the clear the structure and extinguish the blaze at a fire in the Little Empria subdivision last Thursday.


Volunteer fire departments and emergency medical services units responded to a house fire in the Little Emporia subdivision on Lake Gaston in Northampton County last Thursday that ended with one of the residents being airlifted to Vidant East Care after being burned.

Roanoke-Wildwood VFD Chief Lorenzo Wilkins said that one of his volunteers, Dustin Garner, who works for Wildwood Nursery, was in the area for work and called him because he smelled smoke. After some investigation, Garner discovered the flames and reported the fire to Wilkins, who set trucks in route. Wilkins started communicating with Garner around 11:55 a.m., and emergency communications reported the fire at noon following a call from the homeowner. 

“This is the second time Garner got in touch with me about a fire before we got a call,” said Wilkins. “We’re thankful for his ability to pay attention to his senses and react.”

RWVFD was first on the scene and was aided by Longbridge VFD, Gaston Fire-Rescue-EMS and Northampton County EMS. Afton-Elberon VFD had someone on scene who was also working in the area. 

“There were about 25 firefighters at the structure fire,” said Wilkins, who said he was grateful to have so much mutual aid. 

Wilkins said that the homeowners were home when the fire started. Once the man discovered the fire after seeing it over the garage, he yelled for his wife to get out of the house. Wilkins suspects that she was burned while escaping from the bedroom that was adjacent to the garage. According to Wilkins, her burns triggered the need to be airlifted for medical treatment. Wilkins said that she was released from the hospital the next day.

No firefighters or rescue workers were injured while fighting the fire, but there was extensive property damage, said Wilkins. 

Wilkins said he thinks the cause of the fire was from an external battery in a recreational vehicle that was parked in the attached garage. The homeowner was working on the van prior to the blaze.