Two people were killed and four others were injured Thursday morning in Bluffton’s first fatal fire in five years, officials said.
The fire in the double-wide home in the Shady Glen neighborhood started around 12:15 a.m., Capt. Bob Bromage of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said. The home is in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood off Bluffton Road near the post office.
Within a few hours of the blaze starting, officials on the scene determined nine people lived in the residence, Capt. Lee Levesque of the Bluffton Township Fire District said.
Early on, only seven of those people were accounted for.
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Around 7 a.m., Bromage confirmed that one of the missing persons was killed in the fire. Two hours later, Levesque confirmed a second person was killed in the blaze. The two people killed were identified only as an adult male and an adult female in a news release from the Sheriff’s Office. Their names and ages were not available pending notification of next of kin.
Three of the injured residents were being treated at a burn center in Augusta and a fourth was being treated at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Levesque said.
The home this morning
At the scene Thursday morning, the burnt home, a red firetruck sitting in the middle of the street, and a coroner’s van with tarps hung around it were contained in yellow crime scene tape.
Cars of law enforcement officers, reporters, and curious onlookers lined the perimeter of the street.
Other than the hum of the firetruck and the whispers of officers working the scene, it was a silent morning.
Colorful Christmas lights still hung off the front of the charred home and a couple of white chickens pecked in the yard.
One section of the home, which appeared to be the back porch area, was burnt black. The rest of the exterior of the home looked normal, though the inside of the house was gutted and dark.
The siding of a neighboring home was melted. Levesque said heat from the fire caused that damage.
Neighbors and others who’d heard about the fire and wanted to see the scene themselves were filing in and out of the neighborhood all morning. Some stood far back in the street or by trees in nearby yards while others stood closer to the crime scene tape.
Daniella Hernandez, who has lived in Bluffton for 20 years, had come to see the home for the second time that day. She was there early Thursday morning, when firefighters were trying to extinguish the fire and save the people inside. She returned just after 8 a.m.
“I expected the worst,” Hernandez said. “ ... I have never seen anything like that.”
Just after the home had first caught fire, area residents reported hearing multiple sirens as around 30 firefighters responded to the scene of the blaze.
Levesque said 50-60 people from the neighborhood were outside the mobile home when firefighters arrived.
Investigators with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, the state Fire Marshall’s Office, and S.C. Law Enforcement Division were on the scene. SLED will handle the investigation, Bromage said.
The cause of the blaze had not been determined Thursday, Levesque said.