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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — An early-morning fire killed three children and left the rest of family of ten homeless.

“I don’t know what else to say other than wow,” family friend Bobbie Tucker said.

For those who know the Pittman family, the fire that destroyed their home and took the lives of three children was nothing less than a tragedy.

“It hurts your heart to see things like this happen” friend Glenn Taylor said.

Five other children and their mother made it out. The fire at the home on on US 17 in Jacksonville near Old Maplehurst Road started around 5 a.m.

“When we first arrived on the scene, the fire had the complete bottom of the house,” Taylor said. “Fire was coming out of the windows, doors, everywhere.”

Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown says two of the older children had jumped out of a second-story window to escape the fire. The three that didn’t make it out were asleep in a downstairs living room.

“I understand that the fire took the family completely by surprise,” Brown said.

Investigators say 7-year-old Gabriel, 9-year-old Elijah and 12-year-old Tabitha died.

“It’s a bad thing when anyone loses their life from fire, but when it’s a small child who loses their life, it really hurts. It hurts everybody,” Taylor said.

Investigators say three of the children and their mother are at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. One was treated and released. Another sibling is at the burn unit in Chapel Hill.

The father was at work in Jacksonville when the fire started. A family friend told us the family’s old home in Richlands burned down a few years ago.

No word what started this fire.

Red Cross:
The Red Cross has responded to the tragic fire that occurred in the Verona community early this morning. The Red Cross provides shelter, food, clothing, emotional support to families and we will continue to monitor the needs of this family and provide assistance as appropriate.
The Red Cross will accept donations to assist this family and others who may be affected by single family disasters. Persons wishing to make contributions can mail a check to 12 Ruth Street, Jacksonville NC 28540 or make an online contribution at onslow.redcross.org.
You can also contact the Cape Fear Chapter Red Cross in Wilmington at 910-762-2683.

Onslow County Sheriff’s Office:
The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office is also collecting donations for the Pittman Family. Contact Walter Scott with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office at (910) 989-4008 or cell phone (910) 389-4685. You can also contact Gloria Joles, the Sheriff’s Administrative Secretary, at (910) 989-4001.
These are the clothing sizes needed for the family:
MEN – size 31 x 32 Pants and size medium shirts
WOMEN – size 12, 14 pants for teenagers; size 3,5,7 pants for teenagers; size 16 Pants for mother; size XL tops for mother and teenagers and size small tops for teenagers
GIRLS – size 10/12 pants and size 10/12 tops
BOYS – size 4/5 pants and shirts


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