Union Mills couples sustains burns in Sunday house fire

Flown to separate burn centers
Feb. 26, 2013 @ 05:09 AM

A Union Mills couple was flown to separate burns centers Sunday night after they sustained injuries when their house caught fire at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday. 

Don and Sylvia Kent, reportedly middle age or above, were at their home on Hudlow Road in Union Mills when a fire broke out upstairs.

Sylvia Kent was flown to Mission Hospital in Asheville and transported to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem where she was listed in fair condition Monday.  Don Kent was flown directly to Burn Center in Augusta, Ga. by Med Trans from Greenville, S.C. where he is listed in critical condition

"They tried to fight the fire with a garden hose," said Union Mills Fire Chief Dean Conner. "When they realized they couldn't, they started carrying things out . . .they got into trouble."

"Never go back into a burning house," Conner said as he was taking a break after fighting the fire for more than an hour. 

"The fire started in the rear of the house, I'm just not sure how at this time," he said. Conner said the couple had burns on their hands and faces.

"We had to stop them from going back in," Conner said.

The couple's dogs were rescued but the two cats perished.

The large two story wood frame house had several eaves and had been divided into other rooms upstairs, making it difficult  to know how it started.

Rutherford County Fire Marshal Roger Holilfield said the fire started in the attic, but the cause is still under investigation.

Hazel Radford and other neighbors stood by the scene Sunday as firefighters from at least six departments worked.

"I was coming out of my house there behind Union Mills Post Office," Radford began. "I saw smoke and when I walked around to the front, I saw the flames."

Radford said a young gentleman arrived at about the same time and she told him to call 911.

Another neighbor kept yelling, "get them out of the house. Get them out of the house," Radford said.

According to Radford the couple moved to Union Mills six or seven years ago from New York. 

"They are good people. Very quiet. Always staying to themselves, but good people," Radford said.

Neighbor Lynn Bryant agreed. 

"We'd see them at church or at community events, but they were always quiet. Good people," Bryant said.

Firefighters from Hudlow, Bill's Creek, Green Hill, Rutherfordton and Shingle Hollow assisted at the scene.

Rutherfordton fireman Brian Harrill said because the house was "cut up" into so many parts, it was difficult to fight the fire.

 "It was a big fire," Harrill said, resting with more than a dozen other firefighters in the front yard of the home.