Victim in China Grove fire confirmed to be Sonya Graham
CHINA GROVE – Sonya Graham, one of the twin sisters who owned S&S Graham Archery, was confirmed as the victim of a fire and explosion at the business Friday night.
“I can’t accept this. I don’t question God, but I have to live with it,” she said from her Salisbury home on Parkside Drive that she shared with her daughters.
Sonya Graham was co-owner of the business with twin-sister Sionna “Sie” Graham, and she was the younger of the twins by 30 minutes. The two were single and had no children.
“This business was their life and their love. They were married to the business,” Jackie Graham said.
She recalled that Sonya was the outspoken of the two and she just had a way with people.
Frank Thomason, emergency management services coordinator, said Saturday morning the body of the victim has been sent to Chapel Hill for autopsy.
By Shavonne Potts
CHINA GROVE — A woman died Friday night after an explosion at S&S Graham Archery. Four others inside the building escaped.
The business, located at 1700 N. Main St., works in taxidermy and sells archery supplies. The first call about the explosion came in about 9:30 p.m. by someone nearby.
It is unclear what the five people were working on in the taxidermy business, but chemicals were involved, according to Frank Thomason, director of emergency management services.
A Rowan County Sheriff’s deputy arrived on the scene before fire personnel and attempted to get the woman out.
The deputy wasn’t able to make entry into the building.
When the explosion occurred there was an ensuing fire. The unidentified victim ran to a bathroom while the other four made it out a door, Thomason said.
Officials could only say that the woman was in her mid-40s.
Two of the five involved were owners of the business, Thomason said.
Sonya and Sie Graham own and operate the business, according to the company’s website.
“We established an aggressive fire attack and had a relatively quick knockdown,” Thomason said.
There were about 75 people, including fire and other emergency personnel, who responded to the scene.
Thomason said there were so many fire agencies because the building was a commercial structure, which typically draws a higher number of responders. The types of materials used in a taxidermy company also led to more responders.
The heat also played a role. Temperatures were still in the upper 90s around the time of the fire. Additional firefighters were needed to give those working on the fire more frequent breaks to prevent overheating.
The fire was under control around 10:18 p.m.
The following agencies responded: Bostian Heights, Atwell, China Grove, Landis, Rockwell City, South Salisbury, Locke and Faith fire departments, Rowan Rescue Squad, Rowan EMS and Emergency Management Services.
Also Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and China Grove Police responded.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.
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