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Safety: ‘Old time Pawleys fire’ destroys two homes

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Two beachfront houses were destroyed Wednesday morning in what the Midway and Rescue chief called “an old time Pawleys Island fire.”

“Fortunately, somebody saw it,” Chief Doug Eggiman said. “There’s no question we would have lost more than two houses.”

The first call came in just before 4 a.m. The caller could only see the bare frame of the house at 386 Myrtle Ave., Eggiman said. It had partly collapsed by the time the first Midway crews arrived. The wind blew embers the size of notebooks around the area near the Pawleys Island Chapel. “A lot of flying embers were landing on the roof of the chapel and other buildings,” Eggiman said. “There were big old chunks all over the street.”

Due to the extent of the damage, investigators have listed the cause of the fire as “undetermined.” “There’s no real way we could dig down,” Eggiman said. Neither house was occupied, but there was work being done at both, he said. Firefighters believe the fire began at 386 Myrtle Ave., owned by Anne Rainey. It was burned to the ground. A house at 388 Myrtle, owned by Jim Kuyk of Charleston, had only a chimney and a few charred posts left standing. “That was a cool old house, built in the 20’s,” said Jamie Beard, the real estate agent who handled its sale last year. “He loves old things. That’s part of the reason he wanted it.”

The old house was only about a foot from the property line, its building setback grandfathered under the town’s current zoning. That isn’t unusual on Pawleys Island, and Eggiman said Midway crews always arrive expecting to fight at least two fires. Crews from all three stations and one from the Georgetown City Fire Department put water on the fire and nearby structures. “They did a fantastic job,” Eggiman said.

A house at 390 Myrtle Ave. had some outside light fixtures melt, but no other damage. “We were able to confine it to just those two structures,” he said.

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