Thirteen hours in Green Pond
by The Press and Standard | September 13, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: September 11, 2018 at 3:19 pm
The last of the Colleton County Fire-Rescue personnel dispatched to the fire that destroyed a massive residence at Myrtle Grove Plantation left the scene 13 hours after the first fire call.
A resident of the home at 6938 White Hall Road called the county’s emergency dispatch office Sept. 5 at 6:29 p.m., reporting that an air conditioning unit located in the basement of the 28,000-square-foot home was burning and the occupants had all safely left the two-story residence.
The large home, which was constructed about 10 years ago, was located at the end of a single lane, one-and-a-half-mile long dirt road overlooking the Combahee River. The first units to arrive found that fire trucks could not travel the road due to low hanging trees.
Firefighters used chain saws to cut the tree limbs as they traveled down the small road trying to reach the fire. Crews had to stop five times to cut away the low tree limbs before they could reach the scene, said Colleton County Fire-Rescue Chief Barry McRoy. “This delayed units reaching the fire, and aerial apparatus could not access the scene.”
Arriving at the end of the road, firefighters found a large oak tree also blocked access to the home.
The residence is located in an area with no fire hydrants, so a large pond on the property was used to establish a water supply point to draft water from the pond to refill tenders.
Once on scene, firefighter-paramedics found heavy black smoke coming from the interior of the building. Flames were visible on the first and second floors at the rear of the structure. Firefighters deployed multiple hand lines to the main building and protected exposures on one of the building’s wings.
A second alarm was issued shortly after the first units arrived.
The fire quickly spread through the structure and interior conditions forced a defensive attack on the fire.
The basement extended under the entire building, allowing the fire to reach all areas under the residence which were inaccessible to firefighters, McRoy explained. Ground master stream devices were set up in the front lawn to continually feed water onto the fire.
About 30 minutes after the second alarm was issued, a third alarm was sounded and mutual aid request for personnel was made to nearby Sheldon Fire Department in Beaufort County. Additional personnel were also recalled.
Two water shuttle operations were established with tenders supplying one fire engine near the residence and a second stationed to the east of the home.
As news of the fire reached the public, onlookers came to the scene, blocking the only access road.
Several people walked approximately one-half mile to view the fire, leaving their vehicles on the causeway near the water supply point.
This prevented all additional responding fire apparatus from reaching the scene.
Incoming firefighters then had to walk the same half mile to begin to assist at the scene.
It took over 30 minutes to locate the drivers to have the vehicles moved.
Sheriff’s deputies eventually blocked the entrance to the plantation, allowing only fire units access to the property.
The fire eventually destroyed the entire structure. Firefighters worked through the night and into early morning to extinguish the large fire.
One firefighter was injured and transported to Colleton Medical Center for treatment. He was released from the medical center on the morning of Sept. 6 and was expected to be able to return to duty within a week.
The cause of the fire in under investigation.
Myrtle Grove Plantation was established sometime prior to 1850s. The current owner is listed as the Slivka Family Children’s Trust and, according to tax records, the name was changed to Julianton Plantation.