KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) _ Hours after a fire consumed a van containing the bodies of three slain children, a man killed himself in the nearby woods.

Firefighters discovered the first body at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday while extinguishing a van fire in the parking lot of the Wright Brothers Monument Airport on the state's northern coast.

The other two bodies were found after the Ford Aerostar cooled down enough to permit a search Sunday afternoon. All three children were under 13.

Pitt County Medical examiner Page Hudson told The Daily Reflector of Greenville on Sunday that the man shot himself to death. Greenville television station WNCT said he committed suicide after two officers approached him.

Police would confirm only that a 36-year-old man killed himself in the nearby woods about noon on Sunday. They still weren't sure of his identity Sunday night, Kill Devil Hills Police Chief James Gradeless said.

Hudson said he did not believe the children were killed by the fire, but he would not elaborate. He also said investigators were trying to locate the mother of the children, who are not believed to be from North Carolina.