Adult Brother, Sister Die in South Carolina Fire

Investigators said that it appears both were trying to escape the smoke.


SPARTANBURG, S.C. --

An adult brother and sister died in a house fire in Spartanburg on Tuesday morning, the Spartanburg County Coroner's Office said.

Michael Wayne Chastain, 58, and his sister, Carol Marie Gilliland, 52, died in the fire.

Gilliland was staying with her brother because he was having health problems.

A dog was also found dead in the bedroom.

Spartanburg emergency officials said that firefighters from the Cowpens, Converse and Drayton fire departments were called to the fire on Bonanza Drive, just after 6 a.m.

The home is in the Converse area of Spartanburg off East Main Street.

Firefighters found Chastain by the front door and Gilliland by the back door. Investigators said that it appears both were trying to escape the smoke.

Spartanburg County Coroner Jim Burnett said that both had fire-related injuries, but he thinks they most like died from smoke inhalation.

"It appears that both of them came close to escaping the fire, but as most of you know, smoke inhalation usually overcomes you before you can escape," Burnett said.

Burnett said he believes the fire started in the living room near a sofa.

A melted smoke detector was found in the duplex, but there was no battery in it, Burnett said.

Burnett said the man who lives in the other side of the duplex was cooking breakfast for his grandchildren this morning when his smoke detector went off. The man thought it was just due to his cooking, but one of his grandchildren told him there was smoke in a bedroom.

When he realized that there was smoke coming from next door, the man tried to save his neighbors.

Gary Quinn said, "I kicked in the door, got it open about a foot and that's as far as I could get in. There was just too much fire and stuff to get in."

Burnette said the man was unable to get through the door because Chastain's body was on the other side keeping the door from opening all the way.

"I just couldn't do anything else," he said. "I just wish I could've gotten them out but the house was too far gone."

"Emotionally it's hard," Quinn said. "But it's an unseen blessing for us because we weren't still in bed. And I just thank God He let us get out of the house.

He also said, "Pray for the other family."

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