A fatal fire rocked the Buies Creek and Lillington communities Christmas Eve after the wife of a popular pastor passed away and another family member was injured.
The home of the Beddingfield family caught fire on Christmas Eve, according to Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats.
Authorities responded to the call at 164 Supreme Drive, outside Lillington, just after 10:15 p.m. The location is a Lillington address, northwest of the town limits off Tripp Road. The home is in the Plantation at Vineyard Green neighborhood.
Sarah Beddingfield, 68, the wife of Memorial Baptist Church Pastor Ed Beddingfield, an employee of the Harnett County Library, was unable to get out of the home and died.
Mrs. Beddingfield is a library assistant at the Harnett County Library as well as a retired high school teacher.
Head Librarian Angela McCauley said she will be missed. “She was a dedicated worker and the staff will miss her dearly,” Mrs. McCauley said.
She was active in the church her husband leads and sang in the church choir and was a Sunday school teacher. She was also active in missions and was planning a mission trip to Cuba at the time of this weekend’s accident.
Harnett County Director of Emergency Services Jimmy Riddle said it was possible that the family Christmas tree caught on fire, which could have then ignited the entire home.
Mr. Riddle said the fire continues to be under investigation and didn’t want to speculate any further as to the fire’s origin until all of the information about the incident had been gathered and a formal discussion of the circumstances takes place. He said an official report as to the cause could be available as early as this week.
The house has major damage inside the home as well as the roof and other exterior fixtures. A piano inside the home appears to be a total loss.
Sheriff Coats said the Beddingfield family had been at Christmas Eve services at Memorial Baptist Church in Buies Creek. The Rev. Beddingfield and the couple’s two daughters, Shannon and Meghan, escaped the fire. The two daughters were visiting for the holidays. They escaped the fire, but Shannon Beddingfield suffered burns and was taken to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.
Ms. Beddingfield remained hospitalized in good condition Tuesday, according to UNC spokesman Tom Hughes.
Former Memorial Baptist deacon, and current member Al Hardison was on the search committee that brought Mr. Beddingfield to Memorial Baptist Church approximately two years ago. He said word of the tragedy quickly spread among church members.
“We are all in a state of shock,” Mr. Hardison said. “It is very hard to comprehend something like this. You hear of things happening like this, but never in a million years do you think it will come home.”
Mr. Hardison also said the community has come together to support the family.
“You can feel the outpouring of love and support for this family,” Mr. Hardison said.
Buies Creek Fire Chief Justin Riewestahl was also a member of the church.
“We are still in shock from this, but we just hold on to the fact that she is enjoying heaven and all its glory right now,” Mr. Riewestahl said. “Ed and this wonderful woman have taken my family and I into Memorial Baptist with open arms and will always hold a special place in our hearts.” Story and photo courtesy The Daily Record