4 children die in home fire
by J.R. Gonzales of The State

SUMTER- "That was all I had,’ dad says of 5-year-old twins and their two siblings".

Still wearing his work uniform, a dazed C.J. Sanders looked toward the mobile home he shared with his family.

The Gilbert-area home, severely damaged in a fire Saturday afternoon, still held the bodies of his four children.

For Sanders, 22, it was either stay put and wait for their bodies to be removed, or go to Augusta, where his wife, Natasha, was being treated for burns.

Just before 1 p.m., emergency crews were called out to the singlewide mobile home, near Pond Branch Road and I-20, said Ashley Hicks, Lexington County deputy coroner.

Authorities arrived to find the mobile home engulfed in flames, Hicks said. The children were dead.

Family members and friends identified the children as Teanna and Keanna Sanders, 5-year-old twins, and their siblings, Mia, 3, and Isaiah, 2.

Details concerning the cause of the blaze were not immediately available. Emergency officials planned to release more details today.

“It’s a terrible tragedy,” said Russell Griggs, owner of the Azalea Estates mobile home park, where the fire occurred. “No one should ever, ever see their children die in any kind of accident or any kind of situation.”

Griggs said Natasha Sanders, 23, was inside the mobile home and was awakened by the sound of a smoke detector. She tried to rescue her children, he said.

Pastor Dennis Jackson, of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Batesburg-Leesville, described the family as caring.

“They had those kids in church every Sunday,” Jackson said.

C.J. Sanders, an employee of Scott’s Furniture Co. in Lexington, said the twins just started kindergarten at Gilbert Elementary School.

The twins were eager to show off the drawings they made at school and marveled at being able to write their own names.

“ ‘Dad, look at this,’ “ Sanders said, reciting a recent conversation where the two were eager to show what they learned at school.
Jackson summarized Sanders’ feelings Saturday afternoon. “His main statement is, ‘That was all I had.’ “

Anyone wishing to donate items to the family can call Jackson at (803) 379-7124.