Friends react to fire that killed young family

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Friends and family are mourning the tragic deaths of a young family who died in an early morning house fire.

Keith Thatcher, 22, Melissa Thatcher, 23, and Caleb Rankin, 3, died in a fire at their home near Holden Beach Monday morning. Melissa Thatcher was four months pregnant, officials said.

Friends say the couple was married in late January and they were excited to have another addition to their family.

“She was really happy about having another baby,” Meagan Woods said. “That’s one of the bigger tragedies of it. New baby and then Caleb.”

Woods said she was good friends with Melissa in high school and said they got even closer when they both started raising children. Woods said the well-known couple impacted not only her life but the community’s as well.

“She could make anybody laugh,” Woods said. “She was the witty kind of person. If you were down, she would cheer you right up.”

Woods said Melissa’s husband was just as caring, just in a different way.

“Keith came off as a little strange,” Woods said. “It’s his nature. He’s a little quirky.”

Woods said the community is trying to cope with the loss.

“Everybody around here knows everybody around here,” Woods said. “It’s not uncommon for one tragedy to affect so many people.”

For her, the loss of a young child hits close to home.

“It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to hug your kid just a little bit more,” Woods said.

A fourth person made it out of the home on Hazelnut Trail SW, off of Sims Trail. Friends say Melissa Thatcher’s brother was who survived the fire.

Fire officials have not determined the cause of the fire but say it started in the living room. They say a complete report should be ready Wednesday.

Woods said the community will continue to mourn the loss of the family, long after the investigation is complete.

“It takes time,” Woods said. “They’re really good people. They’re really good people.”

Categories: Brunswick