updated 2/23/2007 1:17:08 AM ET 2007-02-23T06:17:08

Firefighters found the charred bodies of a man, woman and infant inside a burning apartment Thursday, and police began a search for several children who may have lived in the unit.

The fire was one of several that struck in North Carolina: Two people died in an early morning fire in Durham, a wind-whipped blaze destroyed as many as 35 townhouses in north Raleigh and several brush fires also burned.

Raleigh police Capt. Chris Bertram said firefighters found the badly burned bodies of a 30-year-old man, a 26-year-old woman and an infant inside an apartment after breaking through a dead-bolted door.

It was not yet clear whether the victims were related, Bertram said, but up to five children may have lived in the apartment, according to tax records. He said police were searching for any other children who may have lived there.

"We're investigating it as a crime scene until we know otherwise," Bertram said.

The fire was confined to the single unit, and arson investigators were on the scene as a standard procedure, he said. The cause of the fire was under investigation and displaced residents were being helped by the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, no injuries were reported as a massive fire burned dozens of homes and townhouses in north Raleigh, forcing the evacuation of several nearby homes and businesses, officials said. The townhouses were valued at about $100,000 each.

In Durham, a brother and sister died in a house fire near North Carolina Central University, city spokeswoman Beverly B. Thompson told the News & Observer of Raleigh. Vera Ashe, 62, died at UNC Hospitals burn center. Her brother, whose name wasn't immediately released, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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