Firefighters work to extinguish a house fire early Saturday morning on Whitten Road. Firefighters discovered the bodies of Charles Edward Tate Jr. 29 of Anderson and 21 year old Christine Ann Bagwell of Pickens in the rubble after the fire was extinguished. West Pelzer, Wren, and Whitefield firefighters responded along with Pelzer EMS.
A house fire claimed two lives in Pelzer early Saturday morning, according to the Anderson County Coroner’s office and the Anderson County fire department. At 12:20 a.m. Saturday morning, February 15, the West Pelzer Fire Department responded to a residence at 207 Whitten St. in Pelzer.
Upon arrival, they found the structure fully engaged in flames. According to Anderson County Fire Chief Brian Moon, the house was heavily damaged, and the roof had almost entirely collapsed. After extinguishing the flames, the department was able to confirm that the owners of the house were out of town. Those owners, in turn, assured the firefighters that no one was in the home; only two family pets. One of those pets, a cat, was found in the debris. The other pet has not been located at this time.
Later that morning, around 10:00 a.m., the fire reignited and the WPFD again responded. In moving some debris around to make sure the remaining hot spots were extinguished, two bodies were discovered. Also, during their second response, the firefighters were informed by another member of the family that there were people who had been in the house earlier. Firefighters discovered the bodies of Charles Edward Tate Jr. 29 of Anderson and 21 year old Christine Ann Bagwell of Pickens in the rubble. Tate was the son of the owners. The presence of the two victims in the home was completely unexpected, and according to officials, the two apparently forced entry into the residence.
A coroner’s news release stated that illicit drug use was suspected as a contributing factor in the two deaths. Smoke inhalation was named as the cause of the deaths.
Chief Moon pointed out that there has been a rash of fire related deaths in the last couple of weeks. “I just want to remind people that the fire department has a supply of free smoke detectors, and will come out and install them in your home. I encourage people to take advantage of this benefit. Let’s not lose any more lives this winter. Five is enough.”
West Pelzer, Wren, and Whitefield firefighters responded to the house fire, along with Pelzer EMS.