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March 01, 2024

Man dies in May 8 fire in Bethlehem

A man was found deceased in a fire at an apartment at 75 Pine Lane, off S and K Road, in Bethlehem on May 8, 2023. (Alexander Co. Fire Marshal photo.)


A tragedy occurred early on Monday morning, May 8, 2023, in the Bethlehem Community. Shortly after 1:00 a.m., Alexander County 911 received a call about a fire at an apartment at 75 Pine Lane, off S and K Road.

Alexander County Fire Marshal Mark Earle told The Times that Bethlehem, Wittenburg, Ellendale, and Caldwell’s Grace Chapel fire departments, along with EMS, Fire Marshal’s Office, State Bureau of Investigation, and Alexander County Sheriff’s Office responded.

A neighbor awoke about 1:00 a.m. to the sound of pops and cracks. The neighbor went outside, saw flames in the window of Apartment 1, and then called authorities.

Earle said the firefighters found a deceased man just inside the front door of Apartment 1. The man was later identified as Tim Townsend. The Fire Marshal said the cause of the fire was determined to be improperly discarded smoking materials which had ignited a chair on fire in Townsend’s apartment.

Occupants of the other apartments in the building, Apartment 2 and Apartment 3, were able to escape unharmed. Significant damage was done to Apartments 1 and 2 and those are likely a total loss, Earle said. Apartment 3 received some damage and it could likely be rebuilt. American Red Cross is assisting the three displaced occupants.

Emergency workers were on the scene for about seven hours Monday.

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