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Fire in Four Oaks displaces police officer’s family

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FOUR OAKS — A fire on Jan. 6 has temporarily forced the family of a Pine Level police officer out of their century-old Four Oaks home.

Officer Matt Cuddington and his wife, Samantha, had only recently bought and renovated the house at 100 Keen St. near the railroad tracks downtown. The couple recently welcomed their third child, a daughter, now 2 months old.

The fire began inside the wall beside a stairway, spreading toward the second floor and attic, said Jeremy Johnson, assistant chief of the Four Oaks Fire Department. “The house was full of smoke when we arrived on the scene, but once we found out where it was, we were able to take care of it,” he said.

The family escaped with some belongings, Johnson said. “The family got everything out of the house they could before we got there, except the cat, but we got him,” he said. “He had hidden in the master bedroom behind some furniture.”

No one was injured, and while the house suffered heavy damage, it is not a total loss, Johnson said. “The damage was mostly between the walls,” he said. “The first floor was salvaged and most of the items there were also salvaged.”

Johnston County Fire Marshal Adam Stanley said investigators had been unable to determine the cause of the fire, which broke out about 7:30 a.m. He praised firefighters from Four Oaks, Smithfield and Elevation for containing the damage.

“I think they did a great job of saving the house,” Stanley said.

Keith Chestnut, a family friend, said efforts are underway to help the Cuddingtons meet the unexpected expenses that come with being temporarily displaced while caring for young children.

A benefit is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Four Oaks Police Department on Main Street. Also, State Employees’ Credit Union branches are accepting cash donations for the Cuddingtons.

For more information on how to help the family, call Chestnut at 252-205-7688.

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