South Carolina

Arson investigated as cause of fire that killed man and grandson, SC officials say

A 25-year-old South Carolina man and his grandfather were killed Saturday in a house fire that is being investigated as arson, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office said.

Both Daniel Lee Ayers and 75-year-old Winfred Lee Dills died in the fire that was reported just before midnight Saturday, Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said in a news release.

Ayers was trying to rescue his grandfather from the blaze in the home where both men lived, according to the news release.

The sheriff’s office said arson is suspected as the cause of the fire because of “statements received at the scene,” the Greenville News reported. No arrests have been made, according to the newspaper.

The fire occurred in the 100 block of Hidden Valley Road in Oconee County, Addis said in the news release.

Fire crews arrived to find the home engulfed in flames, with family members outside saying that two people were still in the home, WSPA reported.

Ayers had entered the home through a back door in an attempt to rescue his grandfather, Addis said. His body was found near the back door, and Dills was dead when he was discovered in his bedroom, according to the release.

Autopsies will be performed on both men Tuesday to determine the cause of death.

Another person was treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to a hospital, WYFF reported.

Oconee County Fire Chief Charlie King said firefighters from multiple agencies needed about 30 minutes to get the fire under control and put it out, WHNS reported.

Addis said deadly fire is being investigated by the Oconee County Fire Department, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. With the sheriff’s office pursuing an arson investigation, according to WSPA.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 896-638-4111, or Upstate CrimeStoppers at 888-724-6372.

Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.
Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.