A woman and her dog were killed in a fire early Wednesday morning.
The fire occurred at a camper located in the Anchor Village Mobile Home Park. Southport Fire Chief Charles Drew said the call came in at 5:44 a.m. The department had a unit on the scene in four minutes. A man, who was also inside the camper, had escaped through a window.
Drew said the man thought his girlfriend was following him out. After escaping, he ran to call 911. When he returned and she still had not escaped, he began knocking the windows out in an attempt to free her.
By the time fire crews arrived on scene, the camper was fully engulfed in flames.
“Fire conditions were so heavy, there was no way to do a rescue or a search at that point,” Drew said. “So, we started an initial attack to try to knock the fire down.”
As soon as the blaze was controlled, Drew searched the camper and located the female victim in the bedroom. She was deceased.
“The fire was between the exit and the bedroom,” Drew said. “There was no way to get out except through that window.”
The couple’s dog also perished in the fire.
Drew said arson investigators officially ruled the cause of the blaze “undetermined.” But he did note that the National Weather Service recorded two lightning strikes in the vicinity between 4:45 and 5 a.m.
“We cannot say for certain it was lightning,” he said.
Drew explained that the structure became fully involved quickly because it was a camper and because of the oxygen that got to the fire through the busted windows. The camper was a total loss, Drew said.
The Southport Fire Department also responded to three other structure fires and a motor vehicle crash with entrapment between midnight and 6 a.m. Wednesday.
The first, which occurred around midnight, was a trailer fire in Harbor Ridge Mobile Home Park, located off Jabbertown Road.
“It was a kitchen fire,” Drew said. “Very little structural damage. The department got there quickly and got it out.”
The second occurred around 5:10 a.m. Lightning struck a home located in the 700 block of North Atlantic Avenue.
“The house was full of smoke,” Drew said.
No one was injured in the blaze, and there was only minimal damage. While fire crews were on that scene, a call came in for a motor vehicle crash with entrapment. It occurred on River Road, near River Road Animal Hospital. The collision involved a Waste Industries truck and a car. Drew said crews removed the woman from the car and got her medical treatment.
The third structure fire occurred while crews were on the scene in Anchor Village. Lightning struck a home on Caswell Beach Road, causing a fire in the attic. Crews were on scene quickly, and they were able to get the blaze contained to the attic. The blaze caused only minimal damage.
Drew said just three months ago, the Southport Fire Department visited Anchor Village and other area mobile home parks and knocked on every door offering free smoke alarms.
“It is imperative that people have working alarms in their homes,” Drew said. “They need to be notified as early as possible when there’s smoke or fire in their house so that they can start making plans to get out and escape.
“We’ve been hitting all of our mobile home communities trying to push smoke alarms,” Drew said. “Fire travels so fast in those mobile home structures, and we offer free smoke alarms. That’s what’s going to save their life—getting out of there in time.”
Citizens in the Southport fire district who do not have smoke alarms or need their smoke alarms tested can call the department at 910-457-7915.