A fire that gutted a James Island house Tuesday night affected hundreds of people all over the Charleston area.

How to help

The Lighthouse Point Neighborhood Association has set up a fund for the Hyams family at First Federal. Donate to the family or the dance company through Paypal by marking it cycinfo@knology.net.

Lola McDonald is raising money through her website at mythirty one.com/lolamc. Profits from all purchases through March 28 will be donated to the family, she said. Click on "My Parties" and select "Hyams Family Fundraiser."

Beth Hyams, costume designer for the Charleston Youth Company, lived in the single-story brick house on Starboard Road with her family. She was working on costumes for a production at the Sottile Theatre next month.

The costumes were all lost in the fire, as well as her fabric, sewing equipment and most of the family's personal possessions. Two cats also died in the fire. The family dog was found later, rescued by a neighbor.

"I am picking up the pieces," Hyams said by telephone Wednesday night.

The Charleston Youth Company involves about 100 dancers and singers, plus a wide network of alumni from its 35 years in the community.

A number of parents and supporters were talking about the loss at a rehearsal Wednesday night.

"She is wonderful," board member Judy Long said of Hyams. "The kids love her. She is such a positive person."

Hyams grew up on James Island, and three of her five children are in schools there. Several schools are already planning fundraisers to help the family rebuild.

Hyams spent countless hours making costumes, and everybody was always amazed how she came up with them, choreographer Lola McDonald said. Hyams was also making a first communion dress out of McDonald's wedding dress for her daughter. The dress was also lost in the fire.

"That's just a small piece of all the heartbreak," McDonald said. "Everything is gone. It was devastating for so many families."

But the show must go on. The production at the Sottile is still set for April 25-26. Parents will hold sewing parties to recreate costumes the best they can before the show, under Hyams' oversight.

"Not a stitch can be sewn without her," McDonald said.

Nobody was home when the fire was spotted about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The blaze appeared to have started in an add-on sunroom, and heavy flames were visible in the rear of the house when firefighters arrived, James Island Fire Department Battalion Chief Shawn Engelman said. There was no immediate indication of what caused the fire, he said.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.