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Onslow County Community Helps Pittman Family Recover After Fatal Fire

By: April Davis/ Carly Swain
By: April Davis/ Carly Swain

It's been exactly a week since we first told you about a house fire that took the lives of three children in Onslow County. Members of the Pittman family say it's not the physical- but the emotional recovery that's going to take the most time as the mother Johnetta and 10-year-old Hannah are still recovering at the UNC Burn Center in Chapel Hill. One thing has become very clear during this last week. The Pittman's do not face that recovery alone.

The Pittmans spent Sundays in church. They were a family of ten ministering through dance and praise, but it only took minutes for flames to alter a family portrait forever. It was 5:21 a.m. last Thursday morning when firefighters got the call. Windows shattered and hearts were broken. The family of ten pared down to seven. Officials say 12 year old Tabitha was likely being the brave big sister when she died- probably trying to lead 8-year-old Elijah and 6-year-old Gabriel out of the home, but investigators say smoke caught up to the children.

Flowers were on the porch the day the three children died. Now the flowers have multiplied, and three white crosses, a tribute to each child, are planted in the front yard.

Donations of clothes and money continue to pour in. Six days after the fire, investigators ruled it accidental after a refrigerator malfunction.

The healing continues. Now only Johnetta Pittman and Hannah are hospitalized. The mother is in critical condition. While 10 year old Hannah is now opening her eyes. It's a sign the faith- filled family says may turn their mourning into dancing again.

The Pittman's four other children have been treated and released, and they're all staying with family.


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