Fire Officials: unattended cooking ruled as cause of deadly Thursday morning fire

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Columbia Fire Department says a man was killed in a house fire after leaving food cooking on the stove unattended.

The Richland County Coroner's Office identified the victim as 58-year-old Ricky Hayes of the 27-hundred block of Patricia Drive. Hayes died of smoke inhalation at Palmetto Health Richland.

WIS spoke with Hayes' daughter just hours after she received news of Thursday morning's tragic fire.

Natasha Hayes Robinson - married just this year - says after tossing and turning last night, she knew something was off. Hours later she would learn there was a fire at her father's house from a cousin who lived nearby.

"He was headed to work. So, he saw what was going on. He called my mother, who called me and I immediately jumped on the road," Robinson said.

Living a couple of hours away in Charleston, Robinson says she was getting the story in bits and pieces.

"I didn't know that he didn't make it until I was halfway here," she said.

Officials said the fire started sometime before 5:00 a.m. Thursday and has since been ruled an accident by Columbia Fire.

"Feel like it's a dream, but the weird thing is something just didn't seem right. I couldn't sleep all night," Robinson said.

Her father lived in the home alone, Robinson said she would check in on him every month.

"To make sure he was taken care of – take him to do whatever business he needed taken care of and then made sure he had groceries stocked in his house. He's such a giving person, he would give his last before he takes care of himself," she said.

Fire officials said the fire started in the kitchen, and was likely caused by food cooking on the stove unattended. Officials said unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the U.S.

"I just hope he didn't suffer. That's my main concern," Robinson said.

The fire appears to have caused $20,000 to $30,000 worth of damage.

Neighbors like Darryl Summons are looking to get help for others who were affected by the blaze.

"At first I'm concerned about the people that is out here as well as myself, 'What's going on? Is my unit on fire? Maybe somebody upfront,' then when I found out it was on this side, my concern shifted to the people that lived over there because some of them it looked like were going to be homeless," Summons said.

Copyright 2017 WIS. All rights reserved.