Newsoms native killed in N.C. blast

Published 7:54 am Wednesday, July 8, 2009

NEWSOMS—One of the four victims of Saturday’s fireworks explosion on Ocracoke Island, N.C., was a Newsoms native with continuing ties to the area.

Charles Nathaniel Kirkland Jr., who went by the nickname “Kirk” to avoid confusion with his father, grew up in Newsoms and attended Southampton High School. He moved from the area at age 18 but kept his membership with Newsoms United Methodist Church.

John Kirkland said his older brother, who would have been 50 on July 23, was an electrician by trade and his work required extensive travel. John said Kirk lost his job about six months ago and moved in with his parents in Goldsboro, N.C.

“He started doing volunteer work with our church,” John said Tuesday. He said his brother “needed a little bit of cash” and volunteered with other members of The Lord’s Table Church of Goldsboro to assist area municipalities with fireworks displays over the Fourth of July weekend.

“Dad called Saturday morning early,” John said. “He said the truck that exploded was with one of the teams our church sent out. We didn’t know who was dead or alive.”

John said his brother was the victim authorities declared dead at the scene shortly after the 9 a.m. explosion; the other three victims died later at area hospitals. A fifth victim is recovering from extensive burns he received from the accident.

“My brother was a good man,” John said. “He was away from home a lot when he was working as an electrician. For three or four years, we spoke on the phone and that was it. The past six months have been an opportunity for me to get closer to him. Every weekend we went hunting and fishing together. He was an avid fisherman.”

John said Kirk had two daughters and a son, and he also had two grandchildren. He also had another brother, Alton Dale Kirkland of Newsoms.

According to his obituary, funeral services will be held for Kirk at 2 p.m. today from the chapel of Howell Funeral Home & Crematory in Goldsboro.

Graveside services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at Hollywood Cemetery in Newsoms.