CARLISLE — An investigation by the Union County Sheriff’s Office and SLED into the death of an elderly man who died in a house fire Tuesday evening is continuing.
The incident report filed by the Sheriff’s Office states that at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, deputies, along with several fire departments, the Union County Rescue Squad, and Union County EMS were called to a residence at 138 Dunlap Road in Carlisle in reference to a structure fire.
The report states that while en route, deputies and other emergency personnel were advised that a person was still inside the building. When they arrived on the scene, the report states deputies learned that the person had been found dead inside the home by firefighters. It was then that investigators with the Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the scene to begin an investigation into the death of the victim.
The SLED Arson Team was subsequently called in to assist the Sheriff’s Office in its investigation.
Sheriff David Taylor said that the SLED Arson Team and his office’s arson investigator went through the house Wednesday morning. Taylor said that upon reviewing the damage and the evidence collected, it has been determined that the fire started in the carport area of the building. He said the cause the fire, however, is still undetermined.
“We know that there was a wood heater and a fire was in that heater, but we were unable to determine if that was the source that started the fire,” Taylor said.
On Wednesday, Union County Coroner William Holcombe, who was called to the scene after the body was discovered, issued a press release stating that the deceased was 88-year-old Acie Johnson. He said that an autopsy would be scheduled to be performed on Johnson’s body at Newberry Pathology Associates.
Taylor said Friday that preliminary results from the autopsy indicate that Johnson died of smoke inhalation.
While the case is still open, Taylor said that at this time the fire does not appear suspicious in nature.
In a his statement released Wednesday, Holcombe said that at the time of the fire, Johnson’s daughter and her husband were also living at the Dunlap Road residence. He neither Johnson’s daughter nor her husband were injured in the blaze.
Carlisle Fire Chief John Glenn also spoke about the fire Wednesday morning, saying that his department had been dispatched to the scene at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday. Glenn said that it was initially reported that a shed behind the house was on fire. However, when he reached the scene, Glenn said that the shed and the house were both burning.
“Originally were were dispatched as a shed in the backyard fire,” Glenn said. “When I pulled up on scene I realized it was more than that and we needed more resources.”
Glenn said he called for assistance and that fire departments from three counties responded to help battle the blaze.
“Buffalo, Jonesville, Kelly-Kelton, Southside, Santuc, and Monarch departments responded,” Glenn said. “We had two fire departments from Chester County that responded and Whitmire Fire Department also responded to fight the fire. We had a total of about 40 volunteers on the scene. We also had someone there from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.”
Glenn said that the additional personnel and equipment were needed because the area does not have any fire hydrants and so water must be brought in by truck. He said the closest hydrant is approximately two miles away and so a steady stream of trucks had to be sent back and forth to it to get more water.
Glenn added that because the steady flow of fire trucks was needed to keep the scene supplied with water, a Norfolk & Southern train had to be halted until the blaze was extinguished.
Those additional personnel and resources were needed as Glenn said the house and the shed were fully engulfed. He said efforts to combat the blaze further intensified when he learned there was someone trapped in the building.
“When I got the scene the house was fully engulfed,” Glenn said. “From talking with people in the yard I figured out that someone was inside.”
That person was Johnson who Glenn said was found just inside the front door of the building. He said that when Johnson’s body was found, the Coroner was summoned.
Glenn said that Johnson’s daughter and husband were also in the building when the fire broke out, but managed to get out safely.
Glenn said that firefighters would remain on the scene until 11 p.m. Tuesday bringing the blaze under control and extinguishing it. However, he said firefighters were again dispatched to the scene around 4 a.m. Wednesday when the fire flared back up. He said that firefighters would remain on the scene putting out hot spots and making sure the fire could not reignite.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.