ROCK HILL, SC — A 98-year-old man died and a woman was severely burned Thursday afternoon in a house fire in the Boyd Hill neighborhood, according to emergency officials.
Fred Cathcart died in the blaze at the single family, one-story home, his family told The Herald. The other victim, his female roommate, will be taken to a burn center in Winston Salem, N.C.
Rock Hill firefighters were called to a fully-involved house fire with entrapment at 1132 Hoyle Street at 11:55 a.m., according to Battalion Chief Rusty Myers. Smoke could be seen for miles.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Rock Hill police will work with the fire department to investigate.
It's unlikely that the cause will be determined on Thursday, Meyers said.
By 12:45 p.m., the fire appeared to be under control and crews were on standby dousing water on hot spots.
The house appears to be a complete loss.
Family members and several neighbors described Cathcart as a friendly man who frequently walked around his neighborhood talking to people and collecting cans.
One of his daughters, Gloria Stowers, said Cathcart was in good health at age 98 and still did his own cooking.
She was on the phone with one of her sisters when the fire -- which many witnesses described as an explosion -- happened.
That sister lives in a home next door to Cathcart's house. Through the phone, Stowers said she could hear the "boom" on Thursday afternoon.
Her sister said, "Oh my God, my house is shaking," Stowers told The Herald.
Officials have not yet released the name of the woman also inside the house with Cathcart when the fire started.
Cathcart's family said she was a roommate and had just returned from the store when the fire or explosion happened.
A neighbor, Charlene Young, heard the "boom," she said, and called 911.
She said she told dispatch, "Just get me some help...the house blew up...one side is gone."
Young is related to Cathcart and he often dropped in to check on her, she said.
In Boyd Hill's close knit neighborhood, Cathcart was "a friend to everybody," Young said. "He's going to be missed."