Investigators Say Fatal Pitt County Fire Not Suspicious

A fire which killed a 50-year-old Pitt County woman earlier this week is not suspicious, according to the county emergency management director.

Noel Lee tells WITN News that his office is still investigating the cause into Wednesday morning's fire on Old Tar Road. Kris Wentling died later that day at the burn center in Chapel Hill from her injuries.

The home was owned by God's Love, a local ministry that helps people get back on their feet. Two other residents escaped the blaze unharmed.

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The fire that destroyed a house owned by a local ministry has turned deadly. Officials at the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill say Kris Wentling has died. She was injured in the Wednesday morning fire on Old Tar Rd. outside of Winterville.

Wentling was taken to the center in Chapel Hill, which is where the most critically injured burn patients go for care. Another resident of the home owned by God's Love pulled Wentling out of her room and away from the quickly spreading flames. Officials say Wentling suffered burns to her hands, face and back.

God's Love is a group that ministers to people needing a second chance at life.

The woman's cat also died in the fire. "We want the community to come together. Kris is in heaven with her cat, Precious," said God's Love Director Trudy Hallsted. "Today is the day, if you don't know Jesus. Thank you for all the support and love during this difficult time. Kris will be greatly missed."

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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One resident was critically burned while two others managed to escape a burning home that's owned by a Pitt County ministry.

The fire on Old Tar Road outside of Winterville was reported around 6:25 a.m. It happened at a home owned by God's Love, a group that ministers to people needing a second chance at life.

Louis Groom, one of the three people living in the home, said he awoke and discovered the fire. He knocked on Kris Wentling's door and heard no response. Groom says he opened the door and saw flames that quickly began to spread.

Groom told WITN's Clayton Bauman that he spotted the woman near the bed and she appeared disoriented. The man dragged the women out of the burning bedroom and outside to safety.

Officials with the ministry say Wentling was taken to the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill with burns to her hands, face and back.

A hospital spokesman says the woman is listed in critical condition this afternoon.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire.

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A fire in southern Pitt County today destroyed a home that is owned by a local ministry.

Dispatchers say they sent fire crews to 6062 Old Tar Rd. in Winterville at 6:25 a.m. Old Tar Rd. is just off Ayden Country Club Rd. Three people were living in that house, and one person was taken to the hospital. All three had escaped the burning home before fire crews arrived, according to Winterville Fire Chief, Jonathan Heltzel.

"Nobody was inside the house when we arrived," Heltzel told WITN. "There were three people that lived in the house, and they were outside the house when we arrived."

The blaze destroyed the house that is owned by God's Love, according to the executive director of that ministry, Trudy Halstead. She was on scene this morning after the fire. According to, the mission of God's Love of Pitt County Inc. is to "assist individuals and families by providing those items such as clothes, food, etc. necessary to maintain a household."

The website for Covenant Church says God's Love is a "core ministry partner" of the church.

WITN spoke to a recovering drug addict served by God's Love following the August murder of Pastor Jim Carr of Greenville. Carr had volunteered as a minister for the group.

Eastern Pines, Winterville Community and Ayden Fire all responded to the blaze, along with Winterville and Ayden EMS.

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