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Three people died this morning in a single-vehicle crash outside Gaston.

Trooper D.L. Edwards of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said this evening identification of the three is pending notification of next of kin. The vehicle, a Chevrolet Impala, was reported stolen out of Clayton and a stolen firearm was found amongst the crash debris.

Edwards said the crash occurred shortly before 8 a.m. on Highway 48 near McElroy Truck Lines.

The driver of the vehicle was traveling northeast on Highway 48 when he went off the road to the right. The vehicle struck a tree and burst into flames. The three occupants were ejected from the vehicle.

Edwards said speed is a contributing factor as he estimated the vehicle was traveling in excess of 80 miles per hour in a 55 zone. The crash is still being investigated.

Gaston Fire-Rescue-EMS reported in a statement this morning it was dispatched just after 8 and found a sedan split in two and engulfed. The surrounding brush was also on fire.

After extinguishing the flames, firefighters found three men had been ejected and were deceased.

Units remained on scene for nearly two hours and the highway remained closed to one lane of travel.

The Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Forestry Service, and Northampton County EMS assisted.