‘It’s different’: Lowcountry fireman loses own home in fire

One Lowcountry firefighter now knows what it feels like to be on the other side of the smoke.
Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 4:26 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2023 at 7:33 PM EDT
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KINGSTREE, S.C. (WCSC) - One Lowcountry firefighter now knows what it feels like to be on the other side of the smoke.

Lee Warrell of Williamsburg County has been an active firefighter for the Williamsburg County Fire Department and for the Charleston Fire Department since the early 2000s.

He recently lost his own home to a fire that has been in his family for generations.

“It’s different when you’re here waiting on a truck versus in the truck coming to the fire,” Worrell said.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 23, Worrell woke up to popping sounds coming from the bedroom next door. Seconds later, his smoke detector went off and flames and smoke engulfed the hallways.

“I’m not supposed to in my line of work, but I kind of panicked, grabbed a few things and got out,” Worrell said.

Williamsburg County Fire says the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

The same guys that Warrell is used to fighting the flames with were the ones showing up to save him. And this wasn’t even the first time Worrell had lost a home to fire.

“I was on vacation with my family in Florida in July of 1991 and we came home to our house burnt down,” Worrell said. “...When I became old enough, I wanted to try to return the favor to the community.”

Worrell was asked about how this has changed his perspective as a fireman knowing what it’s like to be on the other side of things.

“It’s still the same,” Worrell said. “Get there as safely and quickly as you can and preserve as much property as you can because people that have never been through it don’t get the aspect of preserving property... Some personal property means a lot to some people.”

Worrell says it’s important to have everyone in families on the same page in case this ever happens to anyone else.

“The biggest thing is smoke detectors and have an escape plan with your family,” Worrell said.

Loved ones and colleagues of the Worrell family have organized fundraisers to support them during this time.

  • Total Loss House Fire Chicken Bog Fundraiser
    • Plates will include chicken bog, green beans, coleslaw and dessert at $10 per plate.
    • Sept. 2 at 12 p.m.
    • Pick up at Buck Eye Deer Processor at 15874 Hwy 301, New Zion, S.C. 29111
    • Delivery available for ten or more plates.
    • Text ahead at 803-460-1216 or 803-825-7960 to guarantee your plate.
  • Fundraiser hosted by the Charleston Firefighters Association