77-year-old suffers second, third-degree burns following Merriwether house fire

MERRIWETHER, S.C. (WJBF) - A 77-year-old man suffered second and third-degree burns after escaping from a house fire, Monday, December 3.

When asked about his memories at the DeLaughter Drive home, Al DeLaughter said "growing up is as a little kid and having family, Christmas and all of your holidays it's just coming home from school."

The home is now destroyed following an explosion in Merriwether. 

"It's pretty rough. You see your family home go up in flames for something that could have been prevented," DeLaughter added.

DeLaughter said he was told about the incident from his mother.  She returned home to see the blaze.

"We came down the road and we saw the smoke and we said yeah it's really on fire," DeLaughter recalled.

Al's father Jimmy is suffering from second and third-degree burns to his face and his knee."

Several animals perished. All of Jimmy and his wife Barbara's belonging were consumed by the flames.

"Matter of fact, you can still see his wheelchair sitting right there and he was able to crawl from that point there. With the help of my mother out and down the ramp and they picked him up down here at the bottom of the ramp," DeLaughter said.


What's left is charred remains from a life filled with memories.

"I'm sorry I couldn't be here for my dad to help him out of the house because I was getting my son from school," DeLaughter explained.

The incident happened just before 3 p.m.

"It's like your adrenaline kicks in and like a tunnel-vision type - trying to hurry to get here to make sure my pops is alright and my mom is ok and the fire department was already here by the time I got here," DeLaughter said.

The younger DeLaughter said that neighbors from across the hill heard his father's cries for help and helped him into the back of their truck and got them away.

When asked about Barabara, Al said, "she's holding, she's a little stressed but she's doing pretty good. She's out right now trying to get some clothes because she didn't have any clothes or nothing."

Shawn did speak with the Chief of the Merriwether Fire Department, he said that his crews were out at the scene for about four hours battling the blaze.

Investigators say it started when someone in the house was smoking while using an oxygen tank.

"Just don't smoke and have oxygen," DeLaughter said. "This is the cause of you being on oxygen and cigarettes. This time a year, just be careful with fire. Be careful all around," he added.

The American Red Cross is helping the family out with clothing and shelter. If you would like to donate, you can do so through the American Red Cross, call the Merriweather Fire Department, or go to SRP Credit Union and ask about the Fire Account. 

Click here to learn how you can donate clothing. 

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