High winds fan flames in Beaufort house fire early Sunday morning

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Four people escaped injury but their small dog died when their Newcastle Street home caught fire in the pre-dawn chill of Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, Beaufort fire officials said.

The Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department and Burton Fire District responded to a house fire in the 800 block of Newcastle Street at 3:50 a.m. Sunday. Upon arrival, firefighters found fire burning in the attic of the home with flames coming through the roof.

Investigators believe the fire started when a limb fell across power lines to the home which knocked out power.  The homeowner tried to reset the breaker and shortly after saw smoke coming from the wall behind the electrical panel, said Beaufort Deputy Fire Chief Clay Scoggins.

High winds overnight likely contributed to the limb falling and then stoked the flames, he said.

Quick action by firefighters kept the blaze from jumping to another home located within 15 feet of the flames, Scoggins said. The fire damaged 50 percent of the Newcastle home’s attic and roof with smoke damage throughout the house.

The house was occupied by at least four people at the time of the fire, though a total of nine people lived there, Scoggins said. The family members are being assisted by the Red Cross. The family’s small dog died from smoke inhalation.

Responding agencies included the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department, Burton Fire District, Beaufort County EMS, Beaufort Police, the American Red Cross and S.C. Electric & Gas.