Tega Cay family continues recovery from house fire

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMarch 17, 2014 

— Pedro Briceno isn’t yet sure where he’ll rebuild, as he and wife Aleida Heinz recover from a fire that destroyed their home.

On March 8, flames burst through their home at 1125 Molokai Drive. Investigator Lou Jarvis ruled the fire an accident.

““It started in the confined space behind the fireplace,” he said.

The confined space was a metal box inside a wood insert, catty-corner to the fireplace but not part of the fireplace. Flames began there and shot up through the roof of the home.

“I put it as a total loss,” Jarvis said. “They’ll have to knock it down.”

Briceno said Monday he’s looking to build a home either on-site or elsewhere in the Fort Mill Township area. The couple and a son are living in a hotel as they sort out insurance and other concerns. All three were home when the fire started, but none were injured.

“We had a fire the night before,” Briceno said. “We put it out but something got into a hole behind the chimney and smoldered all night. Then it caught fire in the morning.”

Skip MacMillan, pastor at Eternal Church, lives across from Briceno and Heinz. MacMillan was at home that Saturday morning when he heard a woman screaming in the street for someone to call 911. MacMillan did.

“I’ve never seen anything like it it my life,” MacMillan said. “You could feel the heat coming off of it before the fire trucks got here.”

Firefighters in Tega Cay responded, with the Flint Hill and Riverview fire departments right behind them. The fire was “out of control” by the time trucks got there, MacMillan said. MacMillan recalls seeing Briceno, who said the family was sleeping, run out into the road in just a sheet.

“We have to figure out what their needs are,” MacMillan said, after some church members offered up gift cards or money to help the family, “and figure out where best to help them.”

Clark Easterling lives between the damaged home and a Lake Wylie cove. He saw Briceno a few times last week as the homeowner tried to salvage what he could.

“The bad thing about it is there’s really nothing you can do,” Easterling said.

York County property records show Briceno bought the $187,000 home in 2010.

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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