Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Two people are in critical condition after a Sunday evening fire. Around 9 p.m. on January 5, Williamsburg County Fire Department responded to a mobile home fire located at 636 Red Road in Kingstree. When firefighters arrived, witnesses at the scene said three occupants that were in the house at the time of the fire drove themselves to an area hospital. At time of press, the names of the victims could not be verified. According to Williamsburg County Fire Chief Randy Swinton, two victims that rode together are in critical condition. Both were transported to a burn unit in Georgia. A third victim who drove himself to the hospital suffered minor burns. Fire Chief Swinton said while the investigation continues, victim statements point to the possibility of an oil heater explosion. Swinton advises citizens take extra precaution during this time of year. "For example, don't leave an electric heater burning all night because they are not designed to run continuously for hours," said Swinton. The County has responded to three home fires in the first week of the New Year. The American Red Cross has assisted fourteen people in Andrews and Kingstree who have been devastated by home fires in the first week as well. “We are in our peak season for home fires, and we are urging everyone to become aware of what they should do to prevent a fire in their home, said Nanci Conley, executive director, Coastal SC Chapter, American Red Cross Palmetto SC Region. Conley said with heating systems running at full force many people are resorting to other sources to keep their homes warm. To avoid fire danger, she advises the following: Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed. If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs. Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. To prevent kitchen fires remember the following: Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on. Enforce a “kid-free zone” in the cooking area and make children stay at least three feet away from the stove. Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup. Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to receive training on the proper use of extinguishers.