BUFFALO, S.C. (WSPA) – We’re learning from family members how three children escaped a fire after authorities say their mother left them home alone. It happened in Union County Monday night, and their mother is charged with child neglect.
“They’re all I live for,” said Madeline Lucre of her grandchildren, after her daughter was charged.
Toys were still in the yard, and colorful curtains could be seen through broken glass when Madeline Lucre was sifting through the burned debris.
“She said Grandma, the house is on fire and we can’t find Elijah,” Lucre said. She said that was her granddaughter over the phone around midnight Tuesday. “I fell to the floor, down to my knees and called out to God.”
Investigators say the child’s mother was not there when the Linersville Road home went up in flames. Three children, ages 12, seven and 5 were inside.
“She said what woke on her up was her throat started hurting,” Lucre recalled. “That was the smoke choking her.”
Lucre says that didn’t stop her granddaughter from making sure her siblings were safe.
“She said she got her sisters out first.. And she ran back in the house twice searching for her brother and she couldn’t no more because she almost passed out from the smoke,” Lucre said.
According to the Union County Sheriff’s Office, firemen searched the home 4 times. They learned the two year old was at a friend’s house when the children’s mother arrived on scene around 2:00 a.m. She told deputies she had taken a trip to the store.
“I love her [Charisse], but it’s just the bad choices that she makes,” said Raymond Antigua, uncle of Charisse Lucre. “I’m just happy my little nieces and nephews are fine. They’re in a good place.”
Charisse Lucre has been charged with three counts of Unlawful Neglect Toward a Child. She was released on a $15,000 dollar bond.
“Sometimes people make bad choices. I’m just glad that her choices didn’t kill them,” said the children’s grandmother.
The family says the children are well and they’re looking ahead.
“I think kids heal best with stability,” said Lucre. She said local non-profits and churches have been assisting the family.
The sheriff’s office says after the Department of Social Services arrived on scene and took custody of the children, they were placed with family members. The fire is still under investigation, but investigators say they believed it started in the kitchen area at the stove.