String of fires light up bigger problem in Edgefield

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, July 24, 2007

EDGEFIELD CO LINE, SC-- Three fires in less than two days: coincidence or criminal?

The first two were Sunday morning within a few hours of each other at two homes near the intersection of Bettis Academy Road Extension and Highway 25.

The third fire was last night in the 700 block of Square Circle Ranch Road. That's just a few miles away from the first two.

The Sheriff's Office and the fire department were out investigating the third fire this afternoon. Criminal or not, they say it highlights a problem for the area.

In the past three days, Edgefield's County Line firefighters were busy
battling three house fires. An elderly man was asleep in this home Sunday when a fire started around 2 am. He's okay.

A few hours later and just a few hundred yards away, a second fire. This time at the home of a 92-year-old grandmother who had just left for church minutes before.

Monday night another home just a few miles away.

Neighbor Minnie Hazel says it's to close to home. "To me, it's curious. That's the way I'll put it."

County Line Fire Department's Chief Tom Malcom says he understands Hazel's concern. "With three fires so close together and in such close proximity, I can feel with our residences in our district for worrying."

That's one of the reasons Chief Malcom called the Sheriff's Office to investigate the third house fire at this abandoned home Monday night
and based on their investigation, they Sheriff's Office says they don't believe the fires are connected.

The Edgefield County Sheriff's Office says the cause of this fire was most likely electrical, just like the other two fires but they agree it highlights a bigger problem in the area, a lack of water supply to extinguish blazes like this before it's too late.

"We're are hydrant poor as we call it." explains Chief Malcom.
He says fire trucks sometimes drive two miles for water from the nearest hydrant, or they have to rely on help from nearby departments.
Other times they'll get water by less traditional ways.

We rely a lot on ponds, and any other water sources we can find, pools, swimming pools anything we can pull water out of and use.

While the fire department agrees that can slow down response times at critical moments, they also say they're doing the best they can.

Chief Malcom says Edgefield County's Water Supply has agreed to install five to seven new water hydrants in the Bettis Academy Road area by this fall. The County Line Fire Department has also applied for grants and hope to get a new tanker truck to help store more water within the next two years.

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