Beaufort News

Power strip, hot ashes behind fires in Burton, Sheldon; third being investigated

The second fire on Stuart Point Road.
The second fire on Stuart Point Road. Burton Fire District

Three fires displaced families in northern Beaufort County this weekend, according to Burton and Sheldon fire districts.

Two were in Burton, and one was in Sheldon. No one was harmed in the blazes.

"In the first fire the smoke detector woke the family who was able to escape safely and call 911, that also allowed us to get there sooner and save the home," Burton Fire District engineer Alex Murray said in a release. "Last night there were no smoke detectors and things ended much differently and also was only seconds away from being very tragic."

The first fire occurred around 1 a.m. on the 300 block of Pine Grove Road, Burton, according to Burton spokesman Dan Byrne. A smoke detector alerted the sleeping family of two adults and one child, and they escaped unharmed. The fire is believed to have been caused by an overloaded power strip.

The flames exploded through a window as firefighters arrived on scene. The flames were confined to one room because of a closed door and firefighters' response, but the single-wide mobile home suffered smoke and heat damage throughout. The fire was out within 15 minutes although crews remained on scene putting out hot spots for about three hours.

The second was on Jenkins Road in Sheldon, according to fire Chief Buddy Jones. The resident had emptied coals from his fireplace outside by the porch and left about 10 a.m. The fire was reported shortly before 11 a.m. and crews arrived to find the porch on fire and flames spreading to the rest of the house.

It took about 40 minutes to extinguish, and firefighters were on scene for about four hours. The home suffered heavy damage and much of the roof was destroyed.

The third fire occurred about 11:30 p.m. on the 100 block of Stuart Road. The home had no smoke detectors. The cause is under investigation but the fire is not believed to be suspicious.

The father told firefighters he woke to a "wall of flames" and fled with his three children -- one an infant -- just before the exit was blocked. The mother came home after.

Neighbors called 911 to report half the house was on fire and firefighters arrived to find three rooms destroyed. Flames were out within 15 minutes, and crews remained on scene for about two hours.

Because there are no hydrants in the area, Sheldon Fire District responded with a water tanker. The city of Beaufort, EMS and the Sheriff's Office also responded.

The American Red Cross assisted all three families.

In light of the fires, Byrne said people should remember to check their power strips maximum load and to also make sure smoke detectors are properly installed and have working batteries.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at

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