Mullis, Sheila Sehorn

FATAL HOUSE FIRE RULED ACCIDENTAL –
HUGO-BLASTED CHIMNEY MAY HAVE BEEN CAUSE<
Charlotte Observer, The (NC)
October 13, 1989
Author:  HELEN ARTHUR, Concord Bureau

The deaths of two people in a house fire Monday have been ruled accidental, and Hurricane Hugo was cited as a possible cause of the blaze, Concord fire
officials said Thursday.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Concord Fire Capt. Greg Faggart
said autopsies showed that the victims, Concord residents William Taylor
Laughlin and Sheila Sehorn Mullis, died of smoke inhalation.

“There was never any indication this was a set fire,“ Faggart said. “We
called in the SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) because we needed their
resources and their expert fire investigators.“

He said investigation into the fire has been closed.

Mitchell Watson, owner of the house at 236 Central Drive, was asleep at the time, but escaped the flames with an apparently minor eye injury. Laughlin,
30, and Mullis, 32, were his friends and were spending Sunday night with him. Faggart said the fire, which started in the front chimney of the 60-year-
old, 1-1/2-story house, could have resulted from faulty construction or
from wind damage from Hurricane Hugo, but that destruction there was so
complete it was impossible to tell.

Investigators did, however, find wind damage from the hurricane in the
house`s back chimney, Faggart said.

Heat from a fire in the front chimney – which opened to fireplaces in the
living room and game room – apparently ignited the house`s wood framing, which was too close to the chimney, Faggart said.

Wind from the hurricane may have been responsible for shifting the house`s
wooden inner structure too near the chimney, Faggart said. Similar damage was found in the back chimney, he said.

On the evening before the fire, Faggart said, a fire was built in one
fireplace, and to keep it burning, an electric fan was pointed at it, for a
bellows effect. The glass door was closed, but air from the fan blew through
its frame, he said.

After radiant heat from the chimney ignited the wood framing, the flames
spread through the house, he said.

Both bodies were found on the dining room floor, indicating that the two
might have been trying to get out, Faggart said.

Damage was estimated at about $60,000 to the house, which was destroyed,
and $30,000 to its contents.

Edition:  FOUR
Section:  METRO
Page:  3B

Copyright (c) 1989 The Charlotte Observer


2 VICTIMS OF CONCORD FIRE IDENTIFIED –
SERVICES SCHEDULED<
Charlotte Observer, The (NC)
October 11, 1989
Author:  HELEN ARTHUR, Concord Bureau

Two bodies, burned beyond recognition in a house fire Monday, were
identified Tuesday through autopsy and dental records, Concord Police Chief
George Smith said.

Smith identified the victims as William Taylor Laughlin Jr., 30, and Sheila Sehorn Mullis, 32, both of Concord.

He also said a preliminary report from the N.C. Chief Medical Examiners`
Office in Chapel Hill, where the autopsies were performed, indicated smoke
inhalation as a possible cause of death, but that was not conclusive Tuesday.

Mitchell Watson, owner of the house at 236 Central Dr., managed to escape
the flames with apparently minor injury to his right eye. The victims, friends of Watson, were staying overnight with him at the time.

Tuesday, investigators from the State Bureau of Investigation`s Arson Task
Force, the Concord Police Department and the Concord Fire Department were
still trying to determine what ignited the fire.

When firefighters arrived, minutes before 3 a.m. Monday, flames already had engulfed Watson`s 1-1/2-story frame house. Damages to the structure and
contents were estimated at about $90,000.

Services for Sheila Sehorn Mullis will be at 4 p.m. Thursday at Wilkinson
Funeral Home in Concord.

Her survivors include a son, Dustin Mullis; a daughter, Melissa Sehorn; her parents, Gene and Betty Sehorn; a brother, Dale Sehorn; a sister, Lisa Sehorn; and grandparents, George Lambert of Harrisburg and Iva Sehorn.

A funeral for William Taylor Laughlin will be at 8 p.m. tonight at
Wilkinson Funeral Home.

An insulation company employee, he is survived by his parents, William and
Mary Laughlin; two sisters, Tina Henry and Wanda Dover; and grandparents Jack and Lula Laughlin.

Memorials to William Laughlin may be made to Second Presbyterian Church`s
memorial fund, 231 Franklin Ave., Concord, N.C. 28025.

Edition:  FOUR
Section:  METRO
Page:  1B

Copyright (c) 1989 The Charlotte Observer

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