Fire, explosion leaves family homeless

First Byline: 
Jonathan Vickery - Staff Writer

An explosion rocked part of the city of Barnwell following a mobile home fire last week.
Shortly before 4 a.m. Nov. 28, a fire broke out around an electric heater inside a home on Lot H8 at the Country Park Manor mobile home park, Barnwell City Fire Chief Tony Dicks said.
Both occupants, Annie Sapp and her adult son, whose name was not available by press time, made it out safely. The son tried to go back inside to extinguish the blaze, but the fire had already "advanced pretty quickly," said Chief Dicks.
Moments later an oxygen cylinder inside the home exploded. "There was a large boom," which was felt or heard by people several blocks away and caused some windows in a neighboring home to break, he said.
The blast happened just before the Barnwell City Fire Department arrived on scene. They were there for nearly two hours, Chief Dicks said.
The exact cause of the fire is unknown, said Chief Dicks, but the home is a "total loss."
Chief Dicks said the fire was his department's first structure fire of their new call year, which began the last week of November.
Less than 24 hours later, a fire broke out at a home on Christian Road in Hilda.
That fire started around 12:24 a.m., Nov. 29, in a wood heater, said Hilda Fire Chief Thomas Sharpe.
Firefighters from the Hilda, Blackville and Barnwell Rural departments responded and were able to contain the fire to the kitchen and attic area. Homeowner Eugene Croft and his family all made it out safely, he said.
Chief Sharpe credits the home's working smoke detectors, and possibly some family dogs, with alerting the family of the fire.
He encourages everyone to not only have smoke detectors, but make sure they are working by regularly changing their batteries.