South Congaree, SC (Paul Kirby) – Lexington County firefighters put out a house fire in the 4200 block of Greenwood Drive Thursday morning. The fire, which was reported around 11:00 a.m., was on the quiet street that’s just off Edmund Highway between South Congaree and Edmund.
Dispatchers had been told prior to fire crews arriving that an autistic child had refused to follow his caregiver out of the burning home. For many people in certain ranges of the autistic spectrum, any break from their daily routine or out of the ordinary pressure like a burning home can make them freeze, become combative, or refuse to cooperate. The child still being inside the house immediately led the battalion chief to switch his first due teams to a rescue mode. This brought additional EMS personnel and equipment to the scene and changed the way the first firefighting crews operate.
The boy's mother was standing outside in a panic, screaming and crying when David "Tony" Ellisor and Blane Ellisor realized what was going on. The father and son duo live nearby. Tony is a City of Columbia firefighter and Blane was too at one point. Realizing that the woman’s son was trapped, they tried to make a rescue through the backdoor but the smoked and heat pushed them back. Blane then moved to a window where the boy was in a bedroom with the door closed. He was able to rescue the boy through the window just as the fire service was arriving and the flames were consuming the home.
Smoke was showing and the fire was growing as the first crews arrived. In a matter of moments, those firefighters entered the home and knocked the fire down. Other teams were arriving and the company of men of Ladder 33 were ordered to ladder the house and ventilate the roof. Within 20 minutes of receiving the call, the battalion chief called his dispatch and reported the fire was out.
The Lexington County EMS personnel were checking two or three patients that were affected by the fire. It was believed that at least one might need to be transported to a hospital for further evaluation.
Mid Carolina Electric Co-Op was called to disconnect the home’s electricity. The fire caused enough damage to displace the family. The American Red Cross is providing the assistance.