An investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has determined that a fatal house fire last year was accidental.
The fire on Nov. 1 claimed the life of Ralph Rogers after a fire started in his Carthage home around 10:30 a.m. The 911 call came from a neighbor saying he had seen flames and smoke in the 300 block of Murdocksville Road.
“The preliminary investigation showed that the fire had been precipitated by an explosion,” said Moore County District Attorney Mike Hardin in a news release on March 21.
When the first units arrived on the scene, they saw heavy flames and smoke coming from multiple areas of the home. Smoke could be seen as far as Highway 15-501 and Doubs Chapel Road.
Firefighters from multiple agencies fought the fire from the exterior of the home. There was no way firefighters could make an interior attack. The remains of Rogers were found after the fire had been put out.
“The completed investigation showed that Rogers was in the early stages of dementia but lived alone,” said the news release. “He was known to attempt to work on various mechanical things. Tools were found on the fireplace hearth where a propane heater was located. Several fittings had been manually unscrewed prior to the fire. Rogers’ body was located in the living room where the heater was located.
“An electric space heater was also located in that room. The investigators believe that Rogers was attempting to “work” on the heater when he loosened the propane supply line causing a rapid leak. The gas level quickly rose in the room until it was ignited by the electric heater, resulting in a fuel/air explosion and subsequent fire.”
Due to the condition of the home and the heavy fire damage, units were on scene until 6:30 p.m.
~Photo and video by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Curtis Self.