5-year-old and parents found dead in McDowell house fire

Published: Dec. 23, 2015 at 10:54 PM EST|Updated: Jul. 14, 2016 at 2:11 AM EDT
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MCDOWELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A mother, father and their child were killed in a house fire on a rural road in McDowell County just three days before Christmas.

The home caught fire early Wednesday morning. After crews put the flames out, they found the remains of two adults and a child inside.

"A sad, sad, situation," said Angela Rumfelt. She walked to to the scene with Robert Arrowood, who said he knew the people inside the home.

"It was my niece, her husband, and their 5-year-old son," Arrowood said.

Authorities have not positively identified the victims, but Arrowood said the family believes they were Michael and Heather Staggs and five-year-old Sammy Staggs.

"He had just started kindergarten, and just loved it," said Arrowood.

The remains will be sent to Chapel Hill for an autopsy and positive identification.

The fire was discovered just before daybreak when another relative noticed a glow in the distant woods. When fire crews arrived, the house was already fully involved and there was nothing that could be done to save it or whoever was inside.

Investigators spent the day looking for the cause, but officials say the damage is so extensive it is possible they may never know for sure what started the fire.

Sheriff Dudley Greene said that nothing has been ruled out, including the possibility of Christmas lights sparking the blaze.

The home was built in the 1940s and the wiring was old. That's a possible cause too, said Greene.

The sheriff said he wants people to be extra careful with their lights this holiday season to avoid accidents.

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