by: Greg Suskin Updated:
FORT MILL, S.C. - Neighbors describe 84-year-old Ken Sloan, known as "Kiss," as the very best of neighbors.
"He could fix anything. He'd do anything for you," said Bill Bagwell, who's lived behind the couple for 34 years off Williams Road in Fort Mill.
However, the couple was in declining health, and couldn't get around very well anymore. They had home health care during the day, and both sat in lift-assist recliners, allowing them to more easily get to their feet.
On Wednesday night investigators said Avie Sloan was reclining in her chair when it caught fire due to a pinched wire. The fire spread, filling the brick house with smoke. Ken Sloan helped his wife outside first, then went back inside, where the smoke overcame him.
The family had two cats that he might have gone back in to save.
Avie Sloan told neighbors sitting outside with her during the fire, that everything she ever had was being destroyed.
"It’s a sad day for everybody. Just sad to see him have to go like that," Bagwell said.
Another neighbor, Terri Misenheimer, told Channel 9 the couple was like second parents to her. She was emotional talking about them.
"I dreaded coming home today and looking at their house," she said.
She and her husband went over there and checked on the couple last week during the snow storm. She said Ken Sloan used to dress up as Santa Claus when her daughter was little, and kept a close eye on their house when they were away.
"He used to ride a golf cart around here," she said of Ken Sloan. "He knew everybody. They are special people."
Avie Sloan became more homebound recently, and she could barely walk. Ken Sloan was also frail.
Even though they'd hired nursing help during the day, they told Bagwell they knew they needed more help around the clock.
"He said if they made it through the weekend, they were going to move into assisted living," he said.
Neighbors said the couple was devoted to each other and to their large family. Bagwell said Ken Sloan was a man of character.
"He would've done anything to save her. He did. He gave his life," he said.
Investigators said the house suffered almost $50,000 in damage. They believe the chair itself did not have faulty wiring, but the wire had likely become pinched over time.
Avie Sloan was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon. Her church, St. John United Methodist in Fort Mill, is raising money for the family.
Donors can write a check to the church, and write “Sloan Family" on the memo line.