Deadly Greenville Fire Ruled Accidental

Fire investigators say a fire that took the life of a Greenville woman Friday night was caused by a cigarette.

Killed in the fire on Harding Street was 63-year-old Franceine Rees. "The decedent was a smoker. She left a cigarette unattended and it had fallen into the paper and started the fire. It spread up to the love seat and created a lot of dense black smoke," said Battalion Chief Doug Branch.

The Medical Examiner's Office says Rees, who was the widow of ECU communications professor Jim Rees, died of smoke inhalation with a contributing factor of alcohol intoxication. Her death has been ruled an accident.

Rees worked at ECU in the news bureau. Her funeral will be at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.



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Flames broke out after 6:30PM according to fire officials. Family members confirm 64-year-old Franceine Rees passed away at the hospital.

Kathy Walton, the niece of Franceine Rees confirms the 63-year-old passed away Friday evening.

Rees, who was an ECU graduate, worked at East Carolina in the news bureau writing Alumni letters and keeping up with University correspondence.

Walton says Rees' son David told her crews worked on scene for 20 minutes to try and revive Franceine Rees, but their efforts wouldn't help.

Walton says Rees' throat was swollen from the smoke from the fire. She says Rees was stuck inside for awhile before she was rescued.

Rees is survived by her son David.

Rees' husband Jim, who was an ECU professor passed away in 2008.


Previous Story:

Fire consumed a Greenville home Friday night while a woman was inside.

It happened in the 100 block of South Harding Street.

Flames broke out after 6:30PM according to fire officials.

As of an hour later, the two story home fire was contained.

The woman who was inside at the time was suffered from smoke inhalation.

Neighbors say the woman was in her mid 60's and was taken to the hospital.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Tina Location: Richmond, va on Apr 7, 2010 at 04:29 PM
    Francine was a wonderful lady, I've not seen her in years, but she made such an impact on my children's lives. My oldest was best friends with David in H.S. Francine took her to plays bought her books. When we lived in G'ville she took all 3 of my children on the Saturday before Easter and colored eggs and did them a hugh basket that had plenty of books. She's the reason my daughter is such a wonderful writer today. Mr. Rees did Barney for my sons 2nd birthday. David you are in my prayers and your mother will be missed terribly.
  • by Neda Location: Greenville on Apr 6, 2010 at 09:31 AM
    Prayers to all the Rees family and any others who may be affected. A special prayer to Ben, Franceine's great nephew. What a sweetheart. He deserves his own prayer. I love you Ben and Franceine was lucky to have you as a great nephew!!
  • by me Location: greenville on Apr 6, 2010 at 04:05 AM
    Did you really have to mention alcohol intoxication as a contributing factor? This was tragic enough without adding that to the family's grief. Shame on you.
  • by Kemp Location: Castalia on Apr 5, 2010 at 06:53 AM
    Phyllis, I know David will not remember me so I am addressing this message to you. I was so taken back by the bad news. I remember when I was small and us all playing together. I loved to go to see you guys because we had some much. It was such a treat for me. I cannot tell you how bad it feels to see our family keep getting smaller. Love you all, Kemp
  • by TIGER Location: CHOCOWINITY on Apr 4, 2010 at 06:41 PM
    MY PRAYERS TO THE FAMILY !!!!
  • by Richard Morin Location: Washington on Apr 4, 2010 at 04:18 PM
    Worked with Francine many years ago when she was with the News Bureau at ECU. At the time I was with The Division of Continuing Education. She was a lot of fun. She and Jim will be missed. I remember that she had a little red head daughter that she and Jim worshiped. May she and Jim rest in peace.
  • by Neda Location: Greenville, NC on Apr 4, 2010 at 08:31 AM
    Kathy, you're so right. Minor injuries do not result in death. Hang in there...you know we love you and all the family...ANYTHING at all...you call me.
  • by Neda Location: Harding Street on Apr 4, 2010 at 08:28 AM
    I grew up across the st. from Franceine. Have known her and the family since I was 10. Special prayers to David, Kathy and Phyllis. You know I'll be here to do anything I can to help. Love you all.
  • by Judy Location: Nashville on Apr 3, 2010 at 06:56 PM
    My special cousin so sorry about Franceine passing David you might not know me but my mother was Aunt Sallie
  • by Friend of Francine Location: Winterville on Apr 3, 2010 at 04:47 PM
    Francine was a truly wonderful lady. I loved her as the Lady of the Manor in the ECU Madrigal Dinners. My thoughts and prayers are with David.
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