MURRELLS INLET — James Brown was at home fixing himself a snack late Friday night when he heard the screams.
At first he thought the sound was coming from the TV but he soon realized it was his grandmother banging on the door.
"The house is on fire! The house is on fire!" James, 14, remembered his grandmother yelling.
It wasn't his own home on Stanley Drive his grandmother was frantic about. James said he walked outside and saw two windows blow out on the house next door where his great-great-aunt Pauline Caverly, 95, lived.
"It was very frustrating because I couldn't hear the fire," James said. "Couldn't smell it."
James said he initially panicked because he didn't see his great-great-aunt standing in her yard. He thought about entering the home but the smoke was so dense he couldn't see.
Then he saw Caverly trapped halfway up an exterior stairwell. The stairwell ended at a closed door to the first floor carport. To get out, she would have had to go under the burning structure on the same ground floor where he remembered family reunions taking place.
Without second-guessing, he climbed up the side of the house and over the railing.
"She said, 'There's nothing you can do. You can't do anything,'" James said.
He picked her up and propped her on the railing. He saw his friend's older brother, Joe Winesett, and waved him around the corner of the flaming home for help.
He could feel the heat of the fire and the wood floor below him starting to crackle and give out. After maneuvering his great-great-aunt down the railing and hopping back over the railing with his own feet hanging off the edge of a step, James said he considered jumping with her in his arms.
Her leg got caught between the railing and the side of the home and James said he worried he'd break her leg if he pulled too hard to pry it loose.
With the help of his friend and his friend's mother, the three were able to get her over the railing and away from the house onto the side of Caverly Lane. The lane runs between the two homes.
"And the whole house started blowing out," James said. "Like, 'Boom, boom, boom!'"
Ambulances and firefighters had arrived by the time they got Caverly into James' grandmother's minivan.
Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District Capt. Rodney Jewett said logs show a total of four fire departments working to get the fire under control. The firefighters who responded haven't finished the incident report and a cause has not yet been determined.
Even days after the event, James said he was tired, both physically and mentally. He said after pushing himself to get Caverly away from the building, his arms felt like they were floating.
Yellow caution tape surrounded the home Wednesday. The grass was blanketed in a thick layer of ash.