Home damaged by fire demolished in Northwest Quadrant

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJuly 18, 2014 

814 Newcastle St., Beaufort

ERIN MOODY — Staff photo

A house in the city of Beaufort's Northwest Quadrant neighborhood has been demolished about a year and a half after being damaged by fire.

City officials have been working with the owner of 814 Newcastle St. since spring. In May, City Council declared the home unfit for habitation, on the recommendation of the planning staff.

The house has been open to the elements since the December 2012 fire because of a hole in the roof.

The fire was believed to have been caused after a tree limb fell across power lines, according to the Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department. The homeowner tried to reset the circuit breaker and later saw smoke coming from behind the electrical panel.

Four people were in the home at the time of the fire and escaped without injuries. In all, 10 people -- three adults and seven children -- were living in the home, according to the Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The fire damaged about half of the attic and roof, but smoke damage extended throughout the home. The family's small dog died of smoke inhalation.

The homeowner, Estella Smalls, told council in May she had just gotten out of jail and was attempting to get her affairs back in order. She said she was working with an insurance company and wanted to make repairs if possible. Her husband had been given power of attorney to handle matters while she was in jail, but was not able to make much headway.

City planner Libby Anderson said staff has been working with Smalls, and the decision was made to demolish the structure. The city is paying for the work, and Smalls will be billed to reimburse it. The demolition cost $6,800 and can be billed in installments, Anderson said.

Demolition began Tuesday and took several days. It was not immediately clear this week whether a new home would be built on the lot.

Attempts to reach Smalls for comment were unsuccessful.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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