Woman killed, 3 escape from early morning house fire in Socastee

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A 70-year-old woman was killed in an overnight fire in Socastee. Others living in the home managed to get out safely, thanks to smoke detectors installed by Horry County Fire Rescue just two weeks ago. Horry County fire officials said while the loss here is unfortunate, they're thankful three people are alive today because of working smoke detectors.

Broken glass and charred debris are what's left of the home. It's the horror neighbors saw when they woke up.

"The woman came to my parents' room walking really hard and my parents woke up and told me to call the police. And I called them but whenever we went outside the house, it was already on fire," said Jamie Bruno.

Horry County Fire Rescue responded to this house on Keith Street right off of 707 around 2 this morning to find flames bursting from the front of the house.

"First units were on location within six minutes of receiving the call, the crews made a very quick and aggressive search of this structure," said Horry County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Mark Nugent.

A total of four people were in the house. Two were able to get out through a window and one from the back door - all without injuries. But one couldn't escape - and died.

Maria Vaca, 70, from Myrtle Beach, was identified as the woman killed in the fire by Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler.

"She got lost in the living room trying to get out the front and she fell, I don't know how exactly it happened," Bruno said.

Alina Bonilla is a friend of the woman who died. But her actual family members who escaped lost most of their belongings. The home is a total loss.
What saved them, according to the family, are smoke detectors Horry County Officials say, ironically, they installed just two weeks ago.

"This surely shows how important and critical proper operating smoke alarms are at homes," said Mark Nugent. "If she didn't have those, I'm pretty sure all of them would've been not here right now," said Alina Bonilla.

Horry County Fire Rescue, police and the coroner's office are all investigating.

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