A Gray Court woman died in an early Sunday morning house fire despite the efforts of her family and local firefighters to save her.
Brenda Taylor, 57, died in the blaze, which quickly engulfed the double-wide mobile home located on Fairview Road in Gray Court just after 5 a.m. Sunday. An autopsy was scheduled Monday, and results were pending, according to Laurens County Deputy Coroner Vickie Cheek.
Four other members of Taylor’s family, including a 1-year-old child and three adults, escaped the fire. They were reportedly treated for smoke inhalation and related injuries at Greenville Memorial Hospital.
Hickory Tavern Fire Chief Lance Roper, who lives about a mile from the Fairview Road residence, said he arrived on the scene about four minutes after the alarm rang and found the home almost fully engulfed in flames.
“About 75 percent of the home was fully involved,” Roper said. “Flames were coming out of every window on the right side of the home, and heavy black smoke was coming out of the other two windows on the left side.”
Roper said Taylor’s adult son tried three times to go into the home and find his mother, but was rebuked by the flames, heat and heavy smoke each time.
“All of the victims were covered in soot, especially the son,” Roper said, noting that the infant was apparently tossed out a window and avoided injuries. The baby was checked out at the scene and was then transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital with the rest of the family.
Roper said firefighters also went into the home through windows on the left side of the house to search for Taylor, but arrived too late to save her.
“We made every attempt that we could to locate her and locate her fast,” Roper said. “We sent our people in without (water) lines in the slim possibility that she had wrapped a wet towel around her face or found a space in a closet where she could’ve sealed herself off.”
Roper said the cause of the fire is still undetermined, and investigators from the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) have taken over the investigation.