Burton Fire, SLED investigating fatal Shell Point blaze

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comJuly 13, 2014 

Investigators from the State Law Enforcement Division, Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and Burton Fire District investigate a deadly fire at 1006 Cypress Street in Shell Point the morning of July 13, 2014.


The Burton Fire District and the State Law Enforcement Division are investigating a fire at a Shell Point home that killed one woman and several pets early Sunday, according to fire and SLED officials.

Juliann Thomas, 41, was pronounced dead at a hospital later that day, according to Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen.

Shortly after 5 a.m., Burton firefighters responded to a blaze at the home at 1006 Cypress St., near U.S. 21, Fire District Chief Harry Rountree said.

Inside, firefighters found a small fire on one end of the home. Thomas was found unconscious in a bedroom in the other end of the home, Rountree said.

Paramedics rushed Thomas to Beaufort Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, Rountree and Allen said.

No one else was in the home at the time of the fire, according to Lt. Jason Covington of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. Several pets in the home also died, however, Rountree said.

Thomas worked as a dispatcher at the Beaufort County 911 Dispatch Center and had been with the department for more than 10 years, Allen said. An autopsy will be performed Monday at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, he said.

SLED and fire investigators remained on the scene Sunday morning but have not determined the fire's cause, Covington said. Rountree said the fire was "small," but dispatchers have not determined the extent of the damage to the home.

When a fatality occurs during a fire, SLED routinely aids local fire departments in investigating the cause; this is not an indication of criminal activity, SLED spokesman Thom Berry added.

Staff writer Erin Moody contributed to this report.

Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

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