In some places you can find flowers in the doorframe, others yellow tape still blowing in the wind. No matter what the aftermath looks like, there's something three recent fires have in common: they took away someone’s loved one. As the tally continues to grow, the numbers are shocking even fire officials.
"In 2017 there were well over 100 deaths in the state, and in 2018 already that number is at 39 folks killed and millions of dollars of property damage from fire," said Oconee County Fire Chief Charlie King.
Three of the most recent fires striking in the span of seven days, leaving dozens heartbroken. In all three, friends, family even neighbors saying it was so unexpected.
"It was a nightmare, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," said William Linder.
"I wish we could just go back in time just to let Larue know how much we loved her," said Marshall Culpepper.
A Honea Path mobile home fire happened just last week and this past weekend loved ones laid 36-year-old Larue Nalley to rest.
When King heard about the fatal blaze, he realized there was a strong message to be shared.
"Once you're out, stay out," said the fire chief.
The Anderson County Coroner said Nalley and her boyfriend were both safely outside of the home when she ran back in to get her cell phone.
Authorities said that's when she collapsed.
King said he wants to tackle the high statistics, but he believes the first step is taking preventative measures before a fire happens.
"First and foremost is a working smoke detector, having the right number of alarms in your home and your businesses,” King said. “We encourage electrical systems to be up-kept and maintained as they should be and circuits not overloaded."
As he talked about fire safety tips, King is reminded of the last fatal fires he worked, a sad reminder of the three Oconee County lives that were lost that night.
"Last February we had two mobile home fires in the same night,” said King. “One of those fires claimed two lives and the second one claimed a single."
He hopes to use that story as an example of how many fires can be prevented during an upcoming meeting.
This Thursday, King and his team will be hosting a meeting to help notify the public of what’s going on statewide with fires. They are pairing up with state fire marshals to discuss ways people can reduce the risk of fires breaking out in their own home.
The meeting is Thursday, April 19 at 6 p.m. at the Westminster fire station.
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