North Carolina Deadliest Fires Database

Last updated May 13, 2021

This page is a catalog of all STRUCTURAL fires and explosions in North Carolina with FIVE or more fatalities. See disasters database for coal mine and marine fires and explosions. Contact Mike Legeros to contribute or correct information.
Click a column heading to sort.

Location County Incident Date Year Fatalities Notes
Hamlet Richmond Factory Sept. 3 1991 25 Imperial Food Products plant. 56 injured. Fire blamed on ruptured hydraulic fuel line near deep-fat fryer. Victims died of smoke inhalation. Plant owner convicted of criminal charges. Source: Various.
Kenansville Duplin Corrections Mar. 7 1931 11 Duplin County prison Camp. Eleven prisoners killed in early morning fire that spread from camp kitchen to sleeping quarters. Source: GenD.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Apartments Mar. 15 1940 9 Guthery Apartments on North Tryon Street. Six injured, including two firefighters injured by people jumping. Seven died at scene. Six alarms including a general alarm. Source: web site.
Asheville Buncombe Hospital Mar. 10 1948 9 Highland Hospital. Nine female patients killed in four-story Highland Hospital for nervous diseases. Source: GenD.
Maxton Robeson Residence Nov. 18 1989 8 Mobile home. Eight children killed. Source: USFA.
Marion McDowell Corrections Jun. 30 1976 8 McDowell County Jail. Prison camp. Eight inmates killed. 26-28 injured. Mattress and other materials burning in dormitory building. Source: Oral history, GNA.
Laurinburg Scotland Nursing Home Mar. 17 1996 8 Scotch Meadow Rest Home. Fire blamed on sparks from wall outlet with missing faceplate. Source: GNA.
Bakersville Mitchell Corrections May 5 2005 8 Jail. Eight inmates killed. 13 injured. Fire appeared to start in storage room on ground floor and quickly spread through three-story brick and wood building. Fatalities were locked in their cells. Source: Various.
Asheville Buncombe Forest Apr. 3 1907 7 Five children killed. Source: Washington Post, 04APR07.
Asheville Buncombe School Nov. 16 1917 7 Catholic Hill School for colored children.  Five children killed, eight serious injured. Furnace fire destroys building. Source: GenD, others.
Henderson Vance Residence Jan. 22 1985 7 Seven youths killed. Fire believed started in downstairs room containing wood stove. Victims found in upstairs bedroom. Source: AP, 23JAN85.
Rocky Mount Nash Residence Nov. 11 2000 7 Two blocks from main fire station. Six children killed. Six injured. Source: The State, 13NOV00.
Ocean Isle Beach Brunswick House Oct. 28 2007 7 Beach house occupied by more than a dozen college students. Seven killed, and several more injured. Source: Sun Journal, 29OCT07.
Hertford Perquimons Factory Jan. 13 1934 6 Boiler explosion at Eastern Cotton Oil Company plant. Seven injured. Source: GenD.
Zebulon Wake Residence Jan. 14 1968 6 Senior and five children.
Sanford Lee Residence Jan. 18 1980 6 Senior, adult, and four children. Reported about 11:00 p.m. by a police officer. Old wood-frame house down a dirt road near downtown, fully involved on arrival. Source: Herald-Journal, 09JAN90.
Taylorsville Alexander Residence Feb. 24 1996 6 Hidden Valley Road west of Taylorsville. Three children and one senior killed. Fire blamed on electrical short in kitchen outlet. Source: Charlotte Observer, 24FEB96.
Silk Hope Chatham Residence Jun. 11 2002 6 3900 Silk Hope Road. Three children killed. Source: Durham Herald-Sun, 12JUN02.
Midway Park Onslow Residence Jul. 9 2003 6 Mobile home just outside Camp LeJune. Six children killed. Source: USA Today, 09JUL03.
Kinston Lenoir Factory Jan. 29 2003 6 Explosion and fire. West Pharmaceutical Services. 38 injured. Source: various.
? Wilkes Construction Site Jan. 23 1890 5 Explosion of powder where blasting underway for railroad. Dozen or more injured. Source: GenD.
Raleigh Wake Clubhouse Feb. 1 1948 5 Carolina Country Club.
Goldsboro Wayne Commercial Apr. 12 1954 5 Explosion and fire. Edwards and Jernigan Furniture Store. Five or more fatalities. 25+ injured. Source: Washington Post and Times Herald, 13APR54
Rocky Mount Nash Residence Jan. 30 1957 5 House at 220 Nashville Road. Source: FD yearbook.
Kinston Lenoir Residence Dec. 19? 1964 5 Five-room frame house near Kinston. Five children killed. Source: GenD.
Raleigh, south of Wake County Residence Tuesday before August 9 1972 5 Home on Penny Road. Alarm time 1:43 a.m. Possibly started by lightning. Sixth member of household escaped with minor injuries. Source: N&O, August 9, 1972.
Shelby Cleveland Commercial May 25 1979 5 Explosion and fire. Fatalities included four firefighters.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Residence Jan. 1 1989 5 1517 Norris Avenue. Fire blamed on cigarette dropped into cushions on upholstered chair. Source: FD yearbook.
Brevard Transylvania Residence Nov. 13 1991 5 Source: oral history.
Chapel Hill Orange School / Fraternity May 12 1996 5 Phi Gamma Delta at University of North Carolina. Fire blamed on discarded cigarette or match in basement party room. Victims found in second floor bedrooms. Source: Various.
Dunn Harnett Residence Feb. 18 1997 5 Three children killed. Source: New York Times, 18FEB97; News & Observer, 24FEB97
Deep Gap Watauga Residence By Apr. 10 1999 5 Mobile home at 141 Bill Miller Road. One child killed. Source: Durham Herald-Sun, 10APR99; Winston-Salem Journal, 10APR99.
Sanford Lee Residence Mar. 4 2006 5 Three children killed. Electrical short believed cause. Two-bedroom house. Source: Fayetteville Observer, 05MAR06; GNA.




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