• Mother, daughter killed in fire started by wood burning stove

    By: Lorena Inclán


    NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. - Rubble and debris now cover a lot in Nassau County where there used to be a home.

    A home where 16-year-old Valorie Morgan lived with her parents Phillip and Paulette Morgan.

    Neighbor Diana Gilbert couldn’t hold back the tears.

    “They were wonderful people loving caring very outgoing that they would do anything in the world for anybody,” said Diana Gilbert, a neighbor.

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    She was in her home across the street when she noticed something was wrong.

    “I heard a big boom and the flames were going like crazy,” Gilbert said.

    The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office says the fire happened around 1:20 a.m. Phillip Morgan was woken up by his wife who smelled smoke in the house.

    "Looks like what caused the fire was a wood burning stove that's the only heat in the structure," said Sheriff Bill Leeper.

    Investigators say Phillip Morgan tried desperately to save his wife and daughter.

    “Firefighters took him to the ambulance and I know is that he was saying he couldn't save them,” Leeper said.

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    Gilbert said the fire has impacted the entire community.

    Investigators say Phillip Morgan tried ripping out an a/c unit from a window to get back in the house but the fire was too intense.

    He did suffer some burns, but is recovering.

    The family did not want to speak publicly but their pastor spoke on their behalf.

    “This is a very tight knit community and so many people are connected in so many ways not just blood relatives but friends and neighbors and so this is a loss that's going to be felt by many,” said Rev. Chris Woodard, First Baptist Church of Boulogne.

    The home used to sit in a very rural part of the county.

    The nearest fire house is Station 40. Action News made the drive and it took our crew about 11 minutes to get there.

    “When you got a rural area like this, you don't have a fire department right next door so it takes them a while but a structure like that, old wooden structure, it would go up really quick,” said Sheriff Bill Leeper.

    According to Gilbert, firefighters arrived quickly and did what they could.

    Okefenokee Rural Electric said the home did have power at the time of the fire.

    Investigators believe that the wood burning stove was their only heat source and they aren’t sure if the family had smoke detectors.

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