An elderly couple in South Carolina was found deceased inside their home on Saturday. According to reports, the heater in the basement was set at 1000°F.
Just after 6 p.m., officers from the Spartanburg Police Department conducted a welfare check on the couple, after not having been heard from for a week. They noticed the house was ‘extremely hot’ as soon as they stepped inside.
The family of the deceased couple told officers they had not seen the pair since Wednesday.
When police arrived at their home, all the doors were closed and locked. However, they noticed the window leading into the bedroom was not secure.
They subsequently removed the window screen, which allowed them to glimpse inside – that’s when they noticed the couple deceased in the room.
According to firefighters, the furnace in the basement was ‘extremely hot’ and read more than 1000 degrees before being deactivated.
One firefighter described the basement as being so hot that ‘it looked as if the basement was on fire’.
Upon realizing that the furnace was not actually on fire, they deactivated it. They also measured the temperature of the furnace itself, which turned out to be over 1000°F.
The interior temperature of the house also exceeded 120°F, according to fire officials, even after they opened the door to cold air for 20 minutes.
Medics also measured the body temperatures of the deceased couple with a device that went up to 106F, and both individuals exceeded that temperature.
While the pair’s identities were initially not released, they have since been identified as 82-year-old Glennwood Fowler and 84-year-old Joan Littlejohn. The former lived at the house while the latter was visiting at the time.
Fowler was found dead on the bed wearing no clothes, facing upwards, while Littlejohn was at the side of the bed, slouched in a chair.
The coroner’s office has confirmed that there is no foul play involved in their deaths. They are, however, concerned with why the heater was set so high and are currently working to determine a cause of death.
Earlier in the week, family members had visited the home after the elderly pair complained that the hot water and gas heaters were not working and that the house was too cold.
The family members were eventually able to get the pilot light to come on after ‘fiddling’ with a wire, after which they left the premises.
Firefighters continued to air out the house for several hours to get rid of the strong smell of natural gas. Before they left the scene, the thermometers inside had started to work again.
At the time, the indoor temperature at the residence measured to be 94 degrees – and that was after the house had been aired out for two and a half hours.