Home for sale goes up in flames hours after offer made to buy it

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — Jessica Wilkins got a phone call she'd been waiting months for at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Someone made an offer to buy their Lancaster home at a price they asked for, so Jessica Wilkins told her realtor to get the paperwork started.

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Jessica Wilkin’s husband called three hours later to tell her their house was on fire, and he was outside with their two children.

"It just wasn't meant to be," Matthew Wilkins said.

Firefighters said the fire started behind the house, possibly outside on a back deck.  It's believed to be an electrical issue, a complete accident.

The couple walked inside the home on Walden Road Wednesday.

There was no roof and most walls are gone.  The fire took everything.

Jessica Wilkins was at her job as a nurse on the late shift at the time when her husband told her what happened.

"He heard a noise on the back porch and said when he opened his eyes, the window was orange," she said.

He grabbed their 3-month-old and 2-year-old children and went outside, where it was cold. He put them in his truck, turned on the heat and waited for firefighters.

Lancaster County Fire Marshal Russell Rogers was at the scene at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and said the conditions were rough.

"It was very cold and windy last night, so that definitely contributed to the spread of the fire, the wind did," Rogers said.

The water used to extinguish the fire turned to ice on the front steps of the house.

The foam they used was still in the grass later in the day frozen, as well.

The frigid conditions hindered firefighters, too.

"We're going in and throwing thousands of gallons of water on this fire, and all that water is collecting on our gear, weighing us down, making it stiff. The hoses are a lot stiffer," he said.

Jessica Wilkins doubts much can be salvaged from the house where she's lived for three years.

She is thankful for a local family to stay with and a good church family that's also helping them.

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