A house caught fire Friday afternoon in Tega Cay, but the three people in the house and most of the family’s animals were not injured.
The blaze began around 1 p.m. Friday at 4111 Marquesas Ave.
Almost an hour later, smoke filled the afternoon sky as police officers diverted traffic through the narrow drive nearly blocked by several firetrucks and fire-fighting equipment.
Jimmy Uloth, 17, said he was home with his sister, Grace, 13, and his brother, Mike, 11, when the fire broke out.
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Jimmy Uloth and his sister were in his room, with their younger brother outside.
Uloth said he and his sister smelled smoke in his room. He went outside to ask his brother what was burning, but his brother responded he didn’t know.
“As soon as he said that, the alarm went off,” Uloth said.
Uloth threw a pet cat to his sister and told her to get out, then went back in four times to get clothes, two dogs, a bird, a safe and a backpack.
“By the time I could go back in, there was too much smoke.”
Students in the Fort Mill school district didn’t have classes Friday, which was a designated teacher work day.
Amanda Hogan, the children’s mother, was working at an auto shop in Charlotte when a neighbor called and told her what had happened.
“She said, ‘I’m sorry, your house is on fire, and it’s half gone,’ ” Hogan said.
Hogan lived in the wooden house 25 years. She looked at the house in disbelief several hours after the fire.
“I don’t know where we’re going to stay,” she said. “We need everything. We have nothing.”
City officials and members of Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a community group that responds to crisis situations in Tega Cay, reached out to the family in the hours after the incident to offer support.
Neighbors also offered assistance, and Jimmy Uloth was able to get some items from the home.
“I had grabbed a lot of my clothes on my first run out,” he said.
Uloth didn’t know what caused the fire.
Radio communication among firefighters indicated a candle may have been to blame.
Firefighters wouldn’t confirm an official cause, though Hogan later said it was a candle.
The family did lose one pet, an iguana, in the fire, Hogan said.
In addition to the Tega Cay Fire Department, Riverview and Flint Hill departments also responded.