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Mother, daughter die in Gaffney house fire

A mother and her daughter were killed while three other family members escaped an early-morning house fire Thursday in Gaffney, S.C.

The fire was reported about 4:30 a.m. at a single-story home on Cherokee Avenue, fire officials said. The home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler identified the victims as Evelyn Rodriguez, 43, and 11-year-old Lanette Rodriguez.

The mother’s 12-year-old son, Carlus Lara Rodriguez, escaped. So did Carlus’ grandparents, Carlus Rodriguez, 71, and Eriberta Tarsee, 67.

Fowler said Carlus told authorities he was sleeping on a sofa in the dining room when his mother woke him up and told him the house was on fire and he needed to get out.

“The son said he and his mom went out the back door, and then she went back inside to get his sister, who was asleep in a front bedroom,” Fowler said.

Carlus said he then went back into the house and yelled for his grandparents, who were asleep in a back bedroom, to get out. After doing that, the son said he went to the front of the house and tried to help his sister and mother.

“He went to the bedroom window where his sister and mom had been sleeping and broke out the glass in an attempt to get them,” Fowler said. “He said the smoke got heavier and the heat was so great that he had to get away from the house.”

Gaffney firefighters found Evelyn Rodriguez’ body on the floor in the dining room and her daughter’s body near a window in her bedroom.

The three surviving family members were treated at Novant Health Gaffney Medical Center for minor injuries.

The coroner’s office, along with firefighters and other agencies, are investigating the cause of the blaze.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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