Elderly Sumter man dies in house fire

Source: Brandi Cummings
Source: Brandi Cummings
Source: Brandi Cummings
Source: Brandi Cummings

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Fire investigators said they believe an electrical problem started a fire that killed an 85-year-old man in Sumter County.

The sight from across the street was shocking. "Just a bad thing to see," said neighbor Georgia Davis, "I saw fire coming out of that bedroom window...It was like black, real thick black smoke."

Davis has lived in her Sumter County home for 22 years. It was hard to see her neighbor's home on fire Wednesday night. Her son heard the commotion as it began. "He said, 'Mama, the house is on fire,' and I said 'Oh Lord.'," she said.

Sumter Fire crews got the call just after 7:00pm. The first crews saw heavy smoke and flames coming from the single-wide trailer. "They attacked the fire from the outside windows, knocked the fire down and made an entry through the rear of the structure," said Sumter Fire Captain Brian Horton.

Crews arrived and found a woman outside the home. Her husband was still inside with no way out. After battling the blaze, they found him in a back bathroom. "With all the smoke and everything, I knew he wasn't going to make it," said Davis.

"A fire is a devastating thing in itself," said Captain Horton, "Then when you lose a life on top of that, it makes it that mush worse."

An autopsy will be done Friday to find out why 85-year-old James Johnson died. "Bad, bad thing to happen to such good people," said Davis.

The tragedy had prompted Davis to make some changes for her husband and children. "We're going to get a fire plan together with a place to meet so we can know that everyone is out safe," said Davis.

She's hoping to protect the ones she loves so no one has to watch tragedy play out through a window like she did Wednesday.

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