Originally created 01/04/03

Blaze destroys Aiken house



AIKEN - An abandoned house in Aiken near South Carolina Highway 19 was destroyed by a fire Friday night, and family possessions that were being stored in the house were also lost in the flames.

Vivian Key stood with tears welling up in her eyes and watched as her late grandfather's home burned.

"All of my family's antiques were in that house. My mother's furniture was stored in the back room," she said.

The house was very old, she said and no one had lived in it for many years.

"It's just hard though. There was sentimental value in that house. I remember playing in it when I was little," Ms. Key said.

Lt. Richard Turner of Aiken's Public Safety Department said it took about 30 minutes to get the fire under control.

"When we got here, it was fully engulfed," he said.

There was a live power line down on the back side of the house, he said. Firefighters had to wait a few minutes for the power company to cut off the electricity before they could begin to put out the flames.

The cause of the fire is not known, Lt. Turner said.

Mertis Butler lives about 35 yards from the Hedge Road house.

She said she had come out of her bathroom and smelled smoke but knew it wasn't her house because the fire alarm hadn't sounded.

When she saw the smoke billowing from the house next door, she ran across the road barefooted to her neighbor's house yelling for someone to call the police.

"It just scared me so bad because the wind was blowing so hard, and it was blowing in our direction. We have an old house like that, too," Mrs. Butler said. "That house had been there for years."

Ms. Key sighed, "I don't know how I'm going to tell my mother."

"It's just hard though. There was sentimental value in that house. I remember playing in it when I was little." - Vivian Key, whose family owned the house destroyed by fire

Reach Sara Bancroft at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.