Easter morning fire in Garden City kills woman, sends 5 to hospitals

mprabhu@thesunnews.comApril 20, 2014 

A woman is dead after a fire in Garden City on Easter morning, fire officials said.

Melissa Lamb, 38, of Timmonsville died at the scene at about 4 a.m., Horry County chief deputy coroner Tamara Willard said. An autopsy to determine her cause of death will be performed tomorrow, she said.

Crews from the Murrells Inlet/Garden City Beach and Horry County fire departments responded to a three-story raised beach house on Calhoun Drive in Garden City around 3:50 a.m. for a reported fire.

“At around 3:30 a.m. it sounded like fireworks,” said Carrie Spielman, who lives on Calhoun Drive. “And that happens sometimes, with spring breakers in the [vacation rentals]. But I thought, ‘that doesn’t sound like partying yelling. That sounds like crying for help.’ ”

She said when she got out of bed and looked outside, she could see the nearby house in flames. Spielman said she and several other neighbors called 911.

“When we came out, it was only on the bottom,” she said. “It spread really fast. … When I came out I saw someone hit the pavement. I don’t know what floor he fell from, or if he jumped. Then [neighbors] ran and pulled him across the street.”

The fire began on the ground floor of the three-story raised home that is split into two vacation rental units, Spielman said. By 4 a.m. Calhoun Drive was filled with fire and rescue crews and investigators for most of the Easter morning.

The three-alarm fire, which was contained to one unit, was under control within 45 minutes, Murrells Inlet/Garden City Beach fire Capt. Chuck Petrella. He said the fire activated the smoke alarms.

By 1 p.m., the street had cleared but onlookers could be seen driving through the neighborhood and stopping to take pictures of the damage.

Much of the third floor railing had burned away, only leaving the shape of a cross, which some neighbors said made them feel uneasy on Easter Sunday.

“Oh wow, that is really eerie,” Spielman said.

The five other people in the home were taken to Waccamaw Community Hospital and Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, Horry County Assistant Fire Chief Scott Thompson said.

Petrella said fire investigators were working to determine the cause of the fire.

A&I Restoration was on the scene Sunday afternoon, beginning work to clean up the damage.

The is the second fire to claim a life within 24 hours on the Grand Strand. John Long, 72, of Murrells Inlet died from multi-system failure at the hospital last night from injuries sustained in a fire on Lotus Court on Saturday morning, according to Georgetown County coroner Kenny Johnson.

The Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information on the Murrells Inlet fire, which occurred 9 a.m. Saturday. Sheriff’s deputies responded to Lotus Court and transported Long and three others to Waccamaw Community Hospital.

Police encourage anyone with information can send an anonymous tip via text by dialing 274637 from any text-enabled cell phone, and text the word “GCSOTIP” followed by your message.

Both incidents remain under investigation.

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.

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