SUMMERVILLE — A 19-year-old man sleeping inside a burning house in Legend Oaks Plantation on Wednesday morning may have been lucky there was a golf course next door.
It wasn't the view of the ninth hole near Plantation Oaks Way that should have made him grateful; it was the golf course employee who noticed flames shooting from the house and roused him from bed, likely saving his life.
After escaping, the teen phoned his father, Robert Masten, who had gone out for a quick errand. Masten rushed back to see flames shooting 40 feet in the air.
"It was burning intensely," the father said later while watching firefighters hose down damaged portions of the house in Dorchester County.
The Old Fort Fire Department received the first call about the blaze around 9 a.m. They didn't have an exact address, but columns of black smoke visible from miles away told them exactly where to go, Assistant Fire Chief Joe Medlock said.
"The whole second floor on the rear of the house was fully engulfed," Medlock said.
They knocked out the flames within 10 to 15 minutes, he said, but continued to tamp down hot spots more than an hour later. The assistant chief said the cause wasn't immediately apparent.
Masten said he lives at the nearly 6,600-square-foot home with his wife and three of their adult children.
Parts of the house could probably be salvaged, he said, though the family would have to relocate. They planned to stay with relatives in Charleston until repairs are completed.
Masten, a retired Navy captain, said the family would recover. He often tells his children not to worry when they find themselves feeling as if they are stuck in a swamp, being chased by alligators. What's important, he said, is "the grace with which you get yourself out of it."
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