A Port Royal home burned down early Saturday morning, and emergency officials say its occupant is lucky to be alive.
Firefighters responded to the 1100 block of 12th Street just after 2 a.m. to find the building already engulfed in flames, Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Chief Reece Bertholf said.
An outbuilding behind the home appeared to also have burned.
Port Royal police officers on routine patrol on 11th Street first noticed the flames at the back of the house, Bertholf said.
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The fire was too thick to enter when the officers arrived at the house, so they circled the building calling for anyone inside.
A woman eventually stumbled from a side kitchen door and was hot to the touch, Bertholf said.
She was treated at Beaufort Memorial Hospital for burns and smoke inhalation and released before firefighters had finished on the scene.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Beaufort-Port Royal fire investigators will work with insurance investigators to determine a cause.
The home did not appear to have had smoke detectors, Bertholf said.
He credited the officers with saving the woman’s life by helping direct her to safety.
Smoke detectors, monitored fire alarms and home sprinkler systems are better bets than police officers spotting fires on patrol, he said.
“I have never seen a situation this close to catastrophe turn out so well due to such a fortuitous stream of events,” Bertholf said. “This individual was extremely fortunate.”
Steam could be seen rising from the home about 7:30 a.m. Saturday. A neighbor walking her dog Saturday morning said she had heard nothing overnight but emerged from her home to see firetrucks and hoses.
A Honda sedan was parked in front of the burned home Saturday.