Summerton woman dies in home fire

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SUMMERTON - A 70-year-old Summerton woman died Thursday morning when a fire destroyed her single-family home on Old River Road.

Clarendon County Deputy Coroner Bucky Mock identified the woman as Martha Brailsford.

Mock said an autopsy would be done Friday at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

"We could have preliminary results from the autopsy late (Friday)," Mock said.

Clarendon County Fire Chief Frances Richbourg said Brailsford lived in the home with her parents, both in their 90s, who were able to get out of the home uninjured.

Richbourg said a gentleman was hunting in a wooded area near the home when he spotted smoke.

"He said he got down (out of his hunting stand) and saw the fire and called it in," Richbourg added. "The house was fully involved with most of the roof down when firefighters arrived."

"We called in (the State Law Enforcement Division) to help work the scene," Richbourg said. "We don't suspect foul play. We just want to make sure that we document everything."

Richbourg said the closure of Old River Road did not play a major role in fighting the fire.

The road has been closed since October 2015 when the "Thousand Year Flood" ravaged Clarendon County, destroying roads and causing dams to break.

"We know the road is out because the dam broke," Richbourg said. "Mr. Buddy (Way) from the Panola station had to avoid that area and come in a different way."

Richbourg said the American Red Cross was on scene helping the family.

"I hope folks keep the family in their prayers," the chief added.

With temperatures expected to dip into the low 30s during the weekend, Richbourg stressed that families should check out their chimneys and heating systems to make sure they're working correctly.

"Folks need to be vigilant at all times when there's fire involved," she added. "We've seen a lot of fires where someone is cooking and then distracted. They leave a pot on the stove, and the next thing it's on fire. Fires take off quickly."