Two blackened ruins sat side-by-side within Apache Family Campground and Pier Tuesday morning after a fire claimed the lives of a mother and son and hospitalized a husband and father.
“They had [him] in the ambulance when I got here, and he was screaming ‘they’re dead, they’re dead,” Wanda Neader, a nearby neighbor, said with tears crippling her voice. She stood outside her home very close to the burnt remnants of the two trailers completely lost in the fire.
The blaze, the cause of which is yet to be determined, ignited at a home in the bowels of the Myrtle Beach-area campground at 9700 Kings Road just after midnight. Horry County Fire Rescue crews arrived within four minutes of a 911 call and had the blaze out about an hour later, according to Battalion Chief John Fowler.
No one was inside the other trailer destroyed by the fire, and the siding of another trailer melted during the incident, but no one was hurt.
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Neader said she has two homes within the campground — one very close to those in the fire, the other across the grounds. She was at her home farthest from the fire Tuesday morning, but was alerted and came as fast as she could, fearing it was her trailer on fire at first. She was able run inside her residence and pull her scared dog from underneath a bed.
“You stand back, and you’re helpless,” she said. “Last night all of us were gathered. We were crying. We were praying. … It brought us together. It brought this campground together.”
She said there’s a strong community there, and that they’ll help take care of the man who has now lost his 62-year-old wife named Shelby McGuire and their 37-year-old son named Cory McGuire, who neighbors said had special needs.
“We’re here for him. That’s what neighbors do. That’s what this campground is all about. … He’s coming back to love,” Neader said.
The family lived within the campground since about 2003, according to Dennis Raynor, general manager.
Neader said they were a nice, happy family who loved to go for walks and enjoyed riding around on their golf cart.
“The other day we saw them walking. Just father, son out walking, and that was the last time we saw them,” Neader said.
Eric Davis, who lives and works inside the campgrounds, also said he knew the family and was downcast Tuesday morning.
“They were nice people,” he said. “Super nice.”
Davis, who said he lives up the hill from where the blaze started, heard the fire and called 911.
“We heard a big boom … then a couple of minutes later we heard popping and cracking and then walked out and seen the flames shooting up above the houses here,” he said.
The man injured in the fire was taken by ambulance to the hospital then flown to a burn unit in Augusta, Ga. Raynor said he was responsive when he was taken from the campground, but there was no update available on his condition later Tuesday.
“It’s a tragedy …,” said Raynor. “We have one resident who is in the hospital, and our thoughts and prayers certainly go out to him.”
Raynor said he was thankful for the fire department’s quick arrival, and that they were able to swiftly contain it.
“They did a remarkable job, and the response time was wonderful,” he said.
“We were lucky the winds were not that strong,” Horry County Fire Chief Joey Tanner said. “Our crews made a very quick knock down.”
A service was held Tuesday afternoon at the campground’s pier.
Dennis James with the American Red Cross was on scene Tuesday morning, and said the organization will be assisting the man injured in the fire. HCFR were assisted by Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach fire departments. Horry County police also are investigating, which is standard protocol whenever deaths are involved in a fire.
The family’s small pet dog escaped the blaze, but remained missing later Tuesday morning.
Staff writer Audrey Hudson contributed to this report.