Couple found dead in blazing hot South Carolina home where furnace appeared to overheat

Jan 10, 2024, 10:24 AM

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — An elderly couple found dead in their South Carolina home where the temperature was about 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius) had trouble with their furnace days before their deaths, their family told police.

Family members called Spartanburg police Saturday after not hearing from the couple for three days. A police officer and a paramedic found Joan Littlejohn, 84, and Glennwood Fowler, 82, dead in their bedroom after entering through an unlocked window, authorities said.

A paramedic tried to get the body temperatures of the couple, but the device was only able to register up to 106 F (41.1 C), well above the temperature where people are advised to go to the emergency room.

Firefighters estimated the temperature in the home at 120 F (49 C) even after the doors had been open to cold outdoor air for 20 minutes. They also checked for carbon dioxide levels, which weren’t particularly high, according to the police report.

The couple had complained Wednesday that their furnace and water heater were not working, so family members visited and got the furnace pilot light turned on before leaving. It was the last time they saw the couple, police said.

Firefighters said the furnace in the basement looked like it was on fire before they turned it off Saturday and estimated its internal temperature at 1,000 F (538 C), police said.

The first officer was on the scene for two-and-a-half hours. He wrote when he left, the home’s thermostat was working again and read 96 F (35.5 C).

Investigators plan an autopsy and other tests to determine exactly what killed the couple, Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said in a statement.

National News

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Couple rescued from desert near California’s Joshua Tree National Park after running out of water

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A couple hiking in the desert south of Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California was rescued after running out of water, authorities said. On Sunday, the man called 911 and reported that his girlfriend was dehydrated and weak, according to a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office posted Monday […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people Friday after they were stuck for about half an hour dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park. Portland Fire and Rescue said on the social platform X that firefighters worked with engineers at Oaks Park to manually lower the […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Independent report criticizes Cuomo’s ‘top-down’ management of New York’s COVID-19 response

NEW YORK (AP) — An investigation into New York’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic found former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “top down” approach of dictating public health policy through his office, rather than coordinating with state and local agencies, sewed confusion during the crisis. In the state’s nursing homes, where some 15,000 people died, the administration’s […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging federal rules to accommodate abortions for workers

CHICAGO (AP) — A lawsuit filed by 17 states challenging federal rules entitling workers to time off and other accommodations for abortions lacks standing, a federal judge in Arkansas ruled on Friday. Republican attorneys general from each state, led by Arkansas and Tennessee, sued the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April, days after the agency […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — ABC’s “This Week” — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen; Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. ___ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Ro Khanna, D-Calif. ___ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio; Microsoft founder Bill Gates; Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. ___ CNN’s […]

9 hours ago

Couple found dead in blazing hot South Carolina home where furnace appeared to overheat