Cause of deadly fire in Buxton still under investigation, community pulls together to support those affected


Nov. 10 update: The U.S. Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet says it has received an outpouring of community support and physical donations and truly appreciate it. At this time, they ask that the community please refrain from sending donations to the unit.

BUXTON, N.C. (WAVY) — A Friday morning tragedy shook the small Hatteras Island community to the core. The fire at a housing complex in Buxton claimed four lives.

Officials say three of the four deaths were members of a Coast Guard family. The fourth death was reportedly a local woman and mother of two.

Dare County Emergency Management said the fire broke out before 4 a.m. Friday at 46110 Cape Hatteras Lane in Buxton. Two other people were found at the scene and taken to Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head for treatment. 10 On Your Side has not received an update on their condition.

Almost immediately after the tragedy, help started pouring in for those affected. As of Monday GoFundMe accounts for the families reached more than $100,000 in total.

Frisco resident Jill Lettieri and her daughter Isabella created one of the online fundraisers. Isabella’s best friend Kat lost her mother in the fire. Isabella wanted to do something, anything, to help.

They created the GoFundMe to raise money for Kat and her younger brother. Jill said they didn’t know what kind of support they would get, so they set the initial goal at $1,000. Twenty four hours later, donors shattered that goal, giving twenty times that.

Support came from all over the country.

“It was so far beyond this little tiny world of Buxton or Frisco or even Hatteras Island,” said Jill. “I think people who have ever been here know that this island depends on the local population to run. You know we can’t function, would never be a tourist destination, if there weren’t people here to take care of it. Sarah was a big part of that. She worked down in a restaurant in Hatteras Village. Even through the pandemic. She’s part of the fishing community. I think people just really connected with that tragedy that they could do this little thing,” Jill said.

She calls the donations a type of virtual blanket the community has wrapped around Kat and her brother. An attempt to provide a small sense of comfort for a tragedy no one can ever fully fix.

If you would like to donate to their fundraiser you can do so here.

The fire caused severe damage to neighboring residences on Cape Hatteras Lane as well. 

Three Coast Guard members and their families were also displaced by the fire.

Officials from the Coast Guard Foundation also stepped forward in an effort to help families affected by the fire.

“We can offer immediate cash assistance because those folks who had to leave their homes with nothing are now in temporary housing that the Coast Guard generously provides for them. But there are things you know as a family that you don’t have anymore,” said Jennifer Fyke, the senior director for communications at the Coast Guard Foundation

Coast Guard officials say they have received an outpouring of volunteerism and offers of assistance from both the local community and from around the world.

“This is an exceptionally hard time for our members and their families,” said Capt. Matt Baer, Commander, Sector North Carolina. “It is heartening to see the outpouring of support from the Outer Banks and around the country.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Dare County Sheriff’s Department, and Coast Guard Investigative Service.

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