NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a house fire in the Pepperidge neighborhood that killed a 68-year-old man and sent three children to the hospital.
The Dorchester County Coroner's Office identified the victim as Bernard Kennedy. Ashley River Fire Chief Scott Inabinet confirmed the victim was found dead on the second floor.
Authorities say three boys, ages four, six and eight, were found hiding in a first-floor bedroom and are now at Summerville Medical. Inabinet did not believe they have serious injuries.
"The two younger ones actually woke up the older one saying there was smoke in the house and he took them downstairs to the downstairs bedroom," Inabinet said.
Terrell Edgerton says he sits outside everyday in his driveway around the corner from where the fire happened.
"A woman drove up, she slammed on her brakes, slapped it in gear, came out hollering and screaming and told the cop there were kids in the house," Edgerton said. "I saw the kids come out with firemen, the three kids. Two were with the bigger ones, then the little one they carried out." He says after seeing the smoke coming from nearby and the amount of first responders he knew something bad had happened.
Crews with the North Charleston and Ashley River fire departments were called to a home on the 8100 block of N Ridgebrook Dr. around 9:30 a.m. Friday after flames were seen coming from its second floor window.
Firefighters arrived on the scene seven minutes after receiving the call and managed to knock down the flames in 12 minutes.
One firefighter says he noticed a wheelchair in the bedroom after they extinguished the fire, and then found Kennedy's body.
"Everyone started showing up saying [it was] the grandfather, or somebody,' Edgerton said. "I talked to one of the family members, and he said... more or less bed ridden and he liked to smoke I guess."
Inabinet said the fire department has come out to this neighborhood before to replace batteries and smoke detectors in the homes and one firefighter said he remembered coming to this home specifically. Inabinet said he believes the alarms were working today when the department got the call for the fire.
SLED along with the North Charleston Fire investigator are trying to determine a cause of the fire.
Social media posts from the scene: