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Green Beret dies trying to save kids from fire

Marcus Castro / AP

Firefighters look at the front of a heavily damaged two- story home where a Special Forces soldier died trying to rescue his 2 small children during a house fire early Tuesday in Hope Mills, N.C.


HOPE MILLS, N.C. - A Green Beret recently home from Afghanistan died trying to rescue his two young daughters from their burning home near Fort Bragg in North Carolina early Tuesday. The girls were also killed in the blaze.

Edward Cantrell and his wife escaped from the 2 a.m. blaze by jumping from the home's second floor, the Cumberland County sheriff's office said. Cantrell then wrapped himself in a blanket and re-entered the burning home in Hope Mills, about 10 miles from the Army base that is home to the Green Berets and other Special Forces units, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said.

Cantrell, 36, was trying to reach 6-year-old Isabella and 4-year-old Natalia, who were trapped in second-floor bedrooms, Tanna said.
"He never made it back out," Tanna said. Firefighters found their bodies inside the home, Tanna said.

Louise Cantrell was being treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation. The family dog, a Rottweiler named Sasha, also survived the fire and was being kept by neighbors.

The century-old home's timbers were likely very dry, causing a fast-moving blaze, Tanna said. The cause of the fire was under investigation, but authorities don't suspect foul play, reported NBC17.com.

Cantrell was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. He held the rank of chief warrant officer 2, said Lt. Col. April Olsen, a spokeswoman for Army Special Forces Command. It was not clear when he served in Afghanistan.

"It's just terrible. We sit here and say our Special Forces can take care of America and this man is trying to go up there and take care of his family and he can't," Cindy Jacobs, who works next door at Alzheimer's Related Care, said, according to NBC17.com.

Read more about the Hope Mills, N.C. fire on NBC17.com

Louise Cantrell, 37, is being treated for smoke inhalation at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, reported FayObserver.com.

The house was a three-bedroom home built in 1920, according to the newspaper.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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