Mother arrested after kids die in fire

March 1, 2010 at 1:35 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 1 (UPI) -- A woman was arrested on charges she left her four children alone in a North Carolina home before a fire claimed the lives of two of the kids, police said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Orgal Paulette Opata, 26, was arrested and charged with murder and felony child abuse for allegedly leaving her children unsupervised in her Charlotte home ahead of Sunday's deadly fire, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported.

The house fire early Sunday morning claimed the lives of Opata's 1-year-old son, Gabriel Hawthorne, and his 2-year-old brother, Josiah Hawthorne.

The brothers' older siblings, a 4-year-old brother and a 7-year-old sister, escaped the deadly fire thanks to the assistance of a neighbor.

Charlotte Fire Department Capt. Mark Basnight said the fire, which destroyed the home, was likely accidental.

"It started in a bedroom," he said of the blaze, which also left one firefighter injured. "It was involving a kerosene heater."

The Observer said Opata, whose location at the time of the fire was not released, is also facing charges of exposing a child to fire and burning resulting in serious injury to a firefighter.

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