HICKORY, N.C. — Police and firefighters are investigating a fire in Catawba County that claimed the lives of two children.
The fire broke out at a mobile home on 7th Avenue SW near 16th Street SW in Hickory Saturday afternoon.
Fire officials confirmed two young children were found dead inside the home. Officials said the victims were 8-year-old Madison McClure and her 7-year-old brother Kevin.
Authorities said no adults were home when the fire broke out.
Officials said the children’s mother was at work when the fire started and that her boyfriend was the one who was supposed to be watching the kids. Neighbors said he had left to make a quick trip to the store and returned to the home on fire.
Channel 9′s Dave Faherty arrived at the scene shortly after the call for help went out. He said several police officers and firefighters could be seen at the home.
Firefighters said when they arrived, flames were shooting out of the windows. Neighbors said the flames were so intense they couldn’t reach the children inside.
“When we came out of the house, we seen the blaze here. We started running and asking people to come and help,” one neighbor said.
Investigators said when the first firefighters got there, there were no adults at the home at that time.
“Because I got grandkids that age,” another neighbor said. “Couldn’t even get in the house because they got dogs around the house.”
Authorities said the cause of the fire was determined to be unintentional.
Several departments responded to the fire. The SBI was also called to the home to assist with the investigation. They will forward their investigation to the district attorney when it is completed.
Leaders at Southwest Primary, where the children attended school, said they had eight counselors on hand to help other students process the news.
Outside the home, Channel 9 spotted an area where people have left balloons and stuffed animals as a memorial.
At 6:30 pm. Monday at Westside Park, not far from the home, the community held a vigil for the siblings.
Neighbor Barbara Causey saw the children on Friday while visiting a friend.
“They shouldn’t have been alone,” she told Channel 9. “I know one thing, they’re with the Lord now. Better off.”
Latoyia Cook, who said she sometimes watched the children, told Channel 9 she was in disbelief over what happened. She said the mother’s boyfriend had left briefly to go to a store just down the street to get the children some snacks.
“I don’t believe anything should happen to him -- he’s suffering enough,” she said. “It was a tragic accident. Other people have done that.”
Friends of the children’s mother told Channel 9 she is devastated. They said she went to the elementary school Monday afternoon to pick up the kids’ belongings. Bennett Funeral Home is holding the service at no cost, according to friends of the family.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.
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