NORTON, Va. (WJHL) – A Sunday morning house fire in Norton claimed the life of a 13-year-old boy and has left two other family members with life-threatening injuries.
Virginia State Police (VSP) reported the fire occurred at a home in the 500 block of Virginia Avenue North around 2:45 a.m. Two women, ages 43 and 22, were able to escape the fire but received life-threatening injuries. A 19-year-old woman was able to get out of the home without being injured.
Norton police said when they arrived at the scene Sunday, they were told at least one person was still in the home. Officers attempted to enter the house but were unable to, and the 13-year-old’s body was recovered after the fire was extinguished.
According to the Norton Police Department (NPD), two officers were injured while trying to get inside to reach the boy. Those officers have since returned to work.
Norton Fire Chief Todd Lagow said the residents of the home were family that lived together. Lagow also informed News Channel 11 that the flames in the home were intense and prevented entry.
“With the heavy involvement, we also had an early collapse [of the] interior of the structure that prevented our crews from making a quick entry,” Lagow said. “After the fire was suppressed, we were able to make entry and did find a victim deceased.”
Neighbors in the area described the incident as an explosion that blew out the home’s windows.
“From what we have heard, there was an explosion, and the neighbors told me they had smelled gas earlier,” said TJ Flanary, who lives in the area. “Two of them kicked the door to the house in and helped three ladies out that were in the house.”
As of Monday, the fire is believed to be accidental in nature.
“Officers did interview several neighbors and people at a residence next door during the fire, but nothing at this time that would lead to any criminal suspected acts,” said Greg Mays, First Sergeant with the NPD.
The NPD, VSP and local fire departments are still investigating how the fire started. The boy’s remains have been sent to Roanoke for an autopsy. The two injured women, identified as the boy’s mother and sister, are receiving care at the burn center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.
Flanary said the victims have not lived in the home for a long time.
“They’ve only lived there about two months,” said TJ Flanary. “They just bought the house.”