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The big chill: Couple's ordeal starts with fire, then freeze

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Vince Marlowe and Gail Elliott of Player Road in Pawleys Island said they are glad to be alive after escaping a fire in their mobile home last Friday morning.

“We were lucky to get out,” Marlowe said. “I thank the Lord for my life and my girlfriend’s life.”

Marlowe said he woke up to intense heat and knew something was wrong. “When I turned the light on, the smoke had already started boiling into the bedroom,” he said. “Another five or 10 minutes and it would have been too late.”

Marlowe said he grabbed Elliiot’s leg to wake her and they ran out the door with their miniature daschsund, Scooter.

“He snatched my leg and said, ‘Gail come on, let’s go,’ ” Elliott said. “It’s amazing how fast something can burn.”

Fire marshal Todd Blomdahl of Midway Fire and Rescue said the call came in at 10:25 a.m. and units were on the scene by 10:28 reporting heavy smoke. Firefighters used hose lines to contain the fire, leaving the interior of the mobile home blackened.

Marlowe was able to back his truck away from the burning mobile home, but they lost everything else in the blaze. “That thing burned in 15 minutes,” he said. “The rescue people were on the scene in four minutes, but by the time the fire trucks got here it was gone. It’s awful. Everything we own was inside.”

Elliott blamed the fire on a six-way electrical plug. Officially, the cause of the fire is undetermined but most likely electrical, starting in the living room, Blomdahl said.

This is the third time she has lost everything in a mobile home fire and the second time on Player Road. The other fire, also caused by an electrical failure, was in February 2000.

The Red Cross put the couple up in a motel room for the first few nights but by Monday they were worried about where they were going to stay with frigid weather on the way.

“It’s been three days, and I’m still in shock,” Marlowe said Monday. “I don’t even want to go in there. It gets me so upset every time I get around it. Everything we owned is gone.”

People learned of the couple’s loss on social media and gave them enough used clothing to fill their motel room.

“We’ve got plenty clothes,” Marlowe said. “The problem is a place to put it. A motel room won’t hold but so much and we’ve got it crammed right now.”

Marlowe said he was hoping to salvage something from the rubble but found very little on Monday.

“If I take the siding off the trailer, the moving people ain’t going to move it. I don’t know what to do. I’m sitting here dumbfounded.”

A fund to help the couple has been established at Wells Fargo Bank. Donations, directed to the Elliott Fire Fund, may be made at any Wells Fargo branch.

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