Edward Cantrell – Chief Warrant Officer Two, United States Army

HOPE MILLS, North Carolina –A Hope Mills father and his two daughters were killed early Tuesday morning after their home erupted in flames.

Crews were called to the home on 4151 Pecan Drive around 1:50 a.m.

The mother and father had escaped the fire by jumping through a window, but according to Cumberland County Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Tanna, the father, 36-year-old Edward Cantrell, covered himself with a blanket and re-entered the home to save his two daughters.

In the meantime, 37-year-old Louise Cantrell ran to Alzheimer's Related Care next door to call for help.

Tanna says the father and the daughters never made it out. The father, a Special Forces soldier, and his two daughters, 6-year-old Isabella Cantrell and 4-year-old Natalia Cantrell, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Louise Cantrell was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and treated for smoke inhalation. She was released Monday afternoon.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“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,” said Cindy Jacobs, who works at Alzheimer's Related Care.

Fire crews remained on the scene well through the morning hours putting out hot spots. The Cumberland County Sheriff's Watch Commander says the home was about 100 years old and contained very old, dried wood, which contributed to the intense heat and flames.

Edward Cantrell was a Chief Warrant Officer 2 with the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg and had recently returned from a mission in Afghanistan.


According to the Special Operations Command, Cantrell joined the Army in 1994.

He had six deployments and came home in August 2011.

He's been awarded four bronze stars and a Purple Heart. He was also a member of the Green Beret.

A decorated Green Beret from Hope Mills, North Carolina defeated the Taliban, and did the courageous thing of leaping from the second-story of his burning home early Tuesday, wrapped himself in a blanket and ran back inside in an attempt to save his two young daughters. The heartbreaking scene is not in Afghanistan, but in the nation’s South. Firefighters later recovered the body of Chief Warrant Officer Edward Cantrell on the second floor of his North Carolina home, not far from the remains of 6-year-old Isabella and 4-year-old Natalia. “He never made it back out,”  Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County sheriff’s office tells Highlight Hollywood.


Cantrell’s wife and the girl’s mother, Louise, also jumped from the second floor. She was treated and released from a Fayetteville hospital for smoke inhalation. The family dog, a Rottweiler named Sasha, also survived the fire. Cantrell was a special forces paratrooper who served six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Friends and relatives gathered to recover what they could from burned-out house in Hope Mills, a small community about a 20-minute drive from the gates of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. That’s where my father also was a paratrooper in the early 1960s.

The house was built in 1920. Tanna said the old home’s timbers were likely very dry, causing a fast-moving blaze. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. A sign at the end of the driveway blocked with yellow police tape says “The Cantrells Est. Feb. 7, 2004.”  On Wednesday, bouquets of flowers and two teddy bears had been placed nearby.

Firefighters from Cotton Volunteer Fire Department, which is less than two miles away, were on the scene within four minutes of receiving the dispatch call. Assistant Chief Kevin Dove said the house was already engulfed in flames.

Cantrell, 36, was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. He held the rank of chief warrant officer 2, which authorized Cantrell to lead half of his 12-member Green Beret team if it was split up, said Lieutenant Cpolonel April Olsen, a spokeswoman for Army Special Forces Command. Military records show Cantrell joined the Army in 1994, listing a home address in Plant City, Florida. He had one combat deployment to Iraq and five to Afghanistan, returning from the last mission in August.

His record included four Bronze Stars and one Purple Heart, awarded for wounds suffered in a war zone. Please keep this family in your prayers, and if you can, please donate to the American Red Cross, which helps families recover from fires and other natural disasters. Please help the Red Cross, which is being overly stretched in the Midwest after last week’s tornadoes and God bless the Cantrell family at this time of need.


A funeral will be held later this week for a Fort Bragg soldier and his two daughters who died in a house fire.

The funeral will be held Thursday at JFK Memorial Chapel on Fort Bragg for 36-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edward Cantrell and his daughters, 6-year-old Isabella and 4-year-old Natalia.

Cantrell died March 6 when he rushed back into his burning home in Hope Mills to try to rescue his daughters. The only survivor was 37-year-old Louise Cantrell, the wife and mother.

Authorities say the fire was accidental.

Visitation will be held 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday with the funeral at 1 p.m. Thursday. The three will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery

A decorated U.S. soldier who died while unsuccessfully trying to rescue his daughters from their burning North Carolina home was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.

The funeral took place, as scheduled, in the early morning, said cemetery spokeswoman Jennifer Lynch.

Chief Warrant Officer II Edward Duane Cantrell, 36, was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. The Green Beret had returned in August from his latest overseas deployment.

His wife, Louise, told officials the family was upstairs when the fire broke out just before 2 a.m. March 5 in Hope Mills, a suburb of Fayetteville.

She jumped from a second-floor window and ran next door to call for help while her husband went to get 6-year-old Isabella and 4-year-old Natalia, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said.

“They never made it out,” said Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office.

Officials believe the family's century-old home had tinderbox conditions that led to “a very intense fire.”

Military officials said the Fort Bragg soldier had completed six deployments, including one to Iraq and five to Afghanistan.

He had four Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart for his service, according to the Army Special Operations Command.

Cantrell was honored with a military funeral at the cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

“That was his wishes,” said Lt. April Olsen of U.S. Army Special Forces Command.

His two daughters will lie beside him.

Cumberland County Sheriff's arson investigators have determined that a fire that claimed the life of a father and his two daughters last week was an accident.

Soldier and daughters die in fire

An investigation has shown that the fire began on an outdoor deck in an area where a charcoal grill was located.

Fire damage to the home was extensive and investigators have been unable to determine the exact source.

Thirty-six-year-old Chief Warrant Officer Edward Cantrell and his daughters, 6-year-old Isabella and 4-year-old Natalia, died of smoke inhalation. Their bodies were found by firefighters inside the home on March 6, 2012.

Thirty-seven-year old Louise Cantrell escaped the fire after jumping from a second story bedroom window of the home and ran to a nearby business to get help.

Cantrell and his daughters were buried Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.

A spokesperson for U.S. Army Special Forces Command said Cantrell completed one deployment to Iraq and five deployments to Afghanistan, most recently redeploying in August, 2011.

In the service since 1994, he received four Bronze Star medals and one Purple Heart, among many awards and decorations.

“The soldiers and families of Special Forces Regiment are deeply saddened by this tragedy. There are no words to express the sorrow felt in our close-knit community when one of our families suffers such a loss. We will continue to provide the family our support, our friendship, and our prayers, and ask that the public respects their right to privately grieve,” said Special Forces Command in a statement.

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