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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Little is left of a New Hanover County home after a fire early this morning. The victims are a Carolina Beach firefighter and his wife.

Thanks to years of training and the help of some neighbors, Deputy Fire Chief Grainger Soward and his wife Diane were able to escape from the third story of their home on river road.

“They were on the top balcony screaming ’cause they couldn’t get down,” neighbor Jeffrey Herring said.

The couple woke up to smoke filling their home. An investigator says Soward’s training and preparedness definitely came in to play.

“Smoke detectors save lives,” New Hanover Co. Deputy Fire Marshal Ray Griswold said. “They also had a rescue ladder to get out of the second floor, which they used, so there were a lot of different fire safety features that were used.”

After the Sowards used their escape ladder to get to the lower balcony, neighbors stepped in to get them down.

“We got them and moved them away,” Herring said. “They had gas and propane tanks and everything in the garage. They had 30,000 rounds of ammunition, and the fire department guy said 10,000 of them went off, so they were all going off when we were moving them.”

The fire destroyed just about everything the couple owned.

The flames also melted the vinyl siding on a house next door.

Investigators have ruled out arson, but they are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.

A fund has been set up for the Soward family through the county courthouse, where Diane works. Anyone who would like to donate can visit any First Citizen’s Bank in New Hanover County.

(Fire video courtesy John Bellm)

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32 Comments on "Training, preparedness credited for saving deputy fire chief, wife from fire"

2015 years 9 months ago

I woke up to this fire outside my bedroom window, it was huge. I heard what sounded like fireworks coming from the fire, thought they had a stash of SC bombs, turns out it was only 30K rounds of ammo.
That is an awful lot.
But I sincerely hope they are provided for and find a safe home while they rebuild their lives.

2015 years 9 months ago

As this “story” is told, they “were” living in a HOME on River Road..
HOW does One on firefighter’s PAY AFFORD a 3 story Home on RIVER ROAD?
90%+ homes on River Road coasts over 1 Million????
HOW AND where, and HOW did they KEEP 30K rounds of AMMO SAFELY????
wouldn’t the rest of the **Serf’s & plebes** BE CARGED with “terrorist” activities having a massive amount of Ammo?
Or some kind of ATF Violation(s)???????
Valid question(s) folks…
Was the “Fire-Fighter” running ammunition(s) to a Drug Cartel or something? THUS; being able to afford such High a dollar Home on RIVER ROAD????
(I smell a good investigative story)……
Or was He “Keeping rounds/Ammo” as part of the 1.2 billion bought by the DHS & other Alfa-bit agencies’?

2015 years 9 months ago

It’s always amusing, and a little sad, to see someone post something this inaccurate and essentially, out of touch with reality.

90% of the homes on River Road cost over a million? I use River Road just about every day and yet somehow I’ve failed to notice that. As to the rest of your post, including all of the nutty punctuation and up-and-down capitalization; I’d have to as off center as you to even address it.

2015 years 9 months ago

Hey 696969etc, your tinfoil hat is way too tight.

2015 years 9 months ago

It is none of anyone’s business how many rounds of ammo this family had. I bet if this occured on Castle street in government housing (that I pay for, in part) and it was 30K bags of heroin they found instead of ammo; you people would be clammering to set up a fund for the poor disenfranchised victims of a fire. Get a grip. An awful thing happened to a good, hard working family who exercised their 2nd amendment right. If you are amazed by 30k rounds of ammo, you should see what I have in my house just down the street:)


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