Victim identified in fatal Harleyville fire blamed on space heater

(source: Live 5 News)
(source: Live 5 News)
(source: Live 5 News)
(source: Live 5 News)
(source: Live 5 News)
(source: Live 5 News)

ST. GEORGE, SC (WCSC) - For the second time in three days, a space heater sparked a deadly fire in Dorchester County.

Desmond Johnson, 29, died in an early-morning mobile fire in Harleyville, according to Dorchester County Coroner Paul Brouthers.

An autopsy will be conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina, he said.Three other people have been displaced by the fire, firefighters say.

Dorchester County Fire Rescue received an alarm at 2:32 a.m. to the 200 block of 2nd Bend Road in Harleyville.

When they arrived at the scene, crews reported seeing a double-wide mobile home engulfed in flames and smoke.

According to a news release by Dorchester County Fire Rescue, it took about 45 minutes to suppress the fire, which firefighters determined was caused by a space heater.

"I just don't know, I don't have any words," said Stanley Newton, the uncle of the victim. "I was just here yesterday. To hear this, this morning and come here and seeing's an eye opener."

Newton says Johnson's mom and two brothers were able to escape from burning home.

"Their phones, keys to the cars was still left inside," Newton said.

For the family it's a very difficult time right before the Christmas holidays.

"It's a hurtful thing but you know, I'm a believer in God," Newton said."He knows what's best, it's what he always does...We'll just try to move on from here."

"Space heater safety is not just a residential concern. Portable electric space heaters are also used in workplaces and can pose a major workplace safety hazard." Dorchester County Fire Chief Tres Atkinson said. "Space heaters are small, but they draw an immense amount of electricity. If a space heater is being used, it should always be plugged directly into the wall. Extension cords are problematic when it comes to space heaters, as many extension cords can't handle the high level of electricity."

Dorchester County Fire Rescue also reminds residents to make sure they have working smoke alarms in their homes.

All Dorchester County residents can request a smoke alarm be installed in their home by completing the online request form or by contacting DCFR Headquarters at 843-563-0214.

Residents who live in the municipal limits of the City of North Charleston or the Town of Summerville are asked to contact their respective departments, who operate similar programs.

No other injuries have been reported.

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