One man is dead, and his wife is described to be in "very serious condition" after a fire in their home on JR & FA Richburg Road late Saturday night.
Clarendon County Fire Chief Frances Richbourg said about 10:30 p.m. her department received multiple calls from the house reporting the fire. By the time they arrived to the rural location, however, Richbourg said firefighters had to pull the couple from the home.
"The dispatcher told them to get out of the house, get out of the house, but apparently they just could not make it," Richbourg said.
Gary Gudon Crummell, 59, was pronounced dead shortly after he was removed from the residence. Richbourg said Crummell's wife, Deloris Crummell, was transported to Clarendon Memorial Hospital and from there airlifted to Columbia for further care. The fire chief said she had been informed the wife was in very serious condition, but still alive, as of Saturday afternoon.
Richbourg said the cause of the fire is still under investigation but stressed the unfortunate incident highlighted the importance of people focusing on getting to safety whenever a fire occurs.
"That's the biggest mistake that some people make," Richbourg said. "They feel that they can fight fire, but they don't realize how large it is and how quickly it can grow." The chief also added, however, that it was not clear at this time what the actions of the Crummells were after reporting the fire.
"They called the dispatchers themselves and their smoke detectors were going off, so their smoke detectors were working, but apparently they did not just immediately get out of the house," Richbourg said.
This was the second fatal fire in the small Clarendon community this month. On Aug. 5, husband and wife Ollie and Penny Bray died from smoke inhalation from a fire at their home on Willie Richburg Road.