CROSS KEYS — A fire destroyed a house in the Cross Keys community Tuesday despite the efforts of 14 fire departments from two counties to battle the blaze.
All of Union County’s 12 fire departments along with two from Spartanburg County were dispatched to 3531 Cross Keys Highway to battle the fire which not only destroyed a house but also spread into the nearby woods.
Cross Keys Fire Department Assistant Chief Stephen Stone said his department was dispatched to the scene shortly after 2 p.m. in response to a report of a structure fire. Stone said residents reported that the fire was on the roof outside the chimney. He said it was later determined that the fire had originated in the chimney.
Stone said that after firefighters arrived on the scene he spoke to the residents who told him they noticed something was wrong when their satellite went out. He said they then went outside the house to try and find out why and discovered the fire which was not only coming through the roof but had destroyed the satellite dish in the process.
Initially, Stone said firefighters went inside the house to begin trying to push the fire back toward the chimney to prevent it from causing further damage to the building. Stone said they were thwarted in the attempt because of the L-shaped design of the building which enabled the fire to spread through a crawlspace to the other side of the chimney. He said once this was discovered, the decision was made to evacuate the firefighters from the building and begin trying to combat it from the outside.
Stone said that the Buffalo Fire Department was dispatched at the same time as his department which later called the Cross Anchor Fire Department for additional assistance. The efforts of all three departments, however, were not enough, and Stone said his department activated the countywide mutual aid system to call in the rest of the county’s 12 fire departments. He said another fire department from Spartanburg County was also dispatched to help battle the blaze while York County sent in some fire department to provide fire protection to Lockhart and that section of the county.
(In addition to being the primary responder to the fire, Stone said Cross Keys firefighters also had to respond to an automobile accident on S.C. 49 that occurred at the same time.)
Despite the efforts of all the fire departments deployed to the scene, the house could not be saved. Stone said efforts to fight the fire and save the building were complicated by the design of the house which made it easier for the blaze to spread. In addition, Stone said the house was set back from the highway making it difficult for firefighters to bring in their trucks and tankers to battle the fire. He said the departments had to set up a system to bring in two tanker trucks at a time to provide water to try and contain and extinguish the blaze.
Another factor complicating efforts to battle the fire were high winds that helped fuel and spread it.
In addition to destroying the house, the fire also spread into the surrounding woods. Stone said that when this was discovered the S.C. Forestry Commission was dispatched and brought in a bulldozer to clear a fire break. He said less than a acre of the surrounding woods was burned.
Cross Keys was the first department to respond to the fire and was the last one to leave, clearing the scene at 12:15 a.m. Wednesday.
While the house was a total loss, Stone said that none of the residents or firefighters were injured by the blaze.
Stone thanked the other fire departments that assisted Cross Keys in battling the fire, praising them for their commitment of their time and resources and professionalism. He also thanked the S.C. Forestry Commission for helping contain the fire when it spread to the woods and the Union County Sheriff’s Office for directing and detouring traffic to make it easier for firefighters to travel to and from the scene.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, Ext. 14.