Sheriff's deputies in Burke County are investigating an alleged murder-suicide that started when a woman set a house on fire.
One neighbor said he called 911 after he looked over at the home and saw a ball of flames shooting out that window that has now been boarded up.
Investigators said 74-year-old Darryl Powell jumped out a window after waking up to smoke and flames inside his living room Monday morning. They believe his girlfriend, Karen Mehzadeh, set a fire near the couch where he was sleeping.
A neighbor described seeing a ball of flames leap from the window of the home on McNeely Drive.
Investigators later found Mehzadeh dead in the basement from an apparent suicide.
Powell died at Baptist Memorial Hospital Monday night from second- and third-degree burns to more than 50 percent of his body.
The deaths have left residents in the neighborhood east of Morganton in shock. They said Powell was asking for his girlfriend after getting out of the home, unaware that she is believed to have set the fire.
"He was standing up here, and they brought the chair up, and my mom was there and he was screaming for her, looking for her, and he didn't have an idea what happened, you know, how everything started," said neighbor April Coleman.
Outside the home, Eyewitness News could see friends of the couple drive slowly by still in disbelief over what happened. Carl Turpin said Powell went out of his way to help him and others.
"Many times he would come to my house and help me get firewood on the porch because I'm disabled. He's 74 years old and he was as healthy as an ox," Turpin said.
Investigators said they have been called to the home before for domestic-related problems.