Fatal fire sparked in living room, but cause is still under investigation, HCFR says

Investigators are still working to determine what sparked a fire that killed a 70-year-old woman in a Socastee mobile home early Monday, but they do know the blaze originated in the living room.

“Horry County Fire Rescue Fire Investigators have determined the structural fire at 5532 Keith Street ... originated in the living room area of the home,” said Mark Nugent, HCFR public information officer. “Investigators have ruled out any malicious activity at this time which could have caused the fire.”

Crews were called to the home around 2 a.m. and found a single-wide trailer partly engulfed in flames, Nugent said.

Seventy-year-old Maria Vaca died from smoke inhalation in the fire, according to Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler. Three others in the home were awoken by the cries of a smoke detector that had been installed by Horry County Fire Rescue on July 22.

The three escaped the blaze, but at least one was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

“Horry County Fire Rescue is saddened there was a loss of life as a result of this tragic incident, but take comfort knowing three individuals escaped the fire as the result of being awoken by the smoke alarms in the home,” Nugent said.

He stressed the importance of having working smoke detectors in a home.

Fire Safety tips from HCFR

  • 1. Test your smoke alarm every month
  • 2. Replace 9-volt batteries twice each year
  • 3. Replace smoke alarms over 10-years old with “long life” lithium battery powered smoke alarms
  • 4. Develop a home escape plan, which includes 2 exits from every home and a designated meeting place away from the home
  • 5. Practice your home escape plan each month, and re-create the plan when sleeping in vacation locations.