Snow, ice hinder fire department response,Six Mile man loses everything in blaze

SIX MILE — On Monday, January 10, at 5:57 p.m., the Six Mile Fire Department received a phone call about a fire in progress at the home of Junior Shove, located on Willow Spring Road.
Ronnie Duncan, chief of the entirely volunteer department, dispatched trucks one minute later. By 6:19 p.m., Six Mile F.D. crews, aided by the Keowee Springs Fire Department arrived on the scene.
Unfortunately, it was too late.
“With all the snow and ice on the roads, it took a little longer than it normally would (to get to the scene),” Duncan said. “But I am really proud of the job we did, especially considering the weather conditions.”
Making it all the more difficult to get the trucks up to Shove’s home was an impervious gravel drive, impassible because of the ice, snow and mud that even chains could not over-come.
“People need to make sure that the driveways to their homes are clear during and after a major storm,” Duncan said. “EMS, fire trucks and other emergency response units can’t do anything to help when they can’t get to where help is needed.”
During winter storms, grocery stores are buzzing with people stocking up on milk and bread in preparation for being stuck at home; however, many people might not consider how invaluable it could be to have in place a plan that enables people — like emergency response workers — to be able to access them in their homes.
Fire department access to his home had not been a concern for Shove until that Monday evening.
Not unlike any other winter evening, Shove added a few logs to the fire already burning in his fire place before heading in to take a shower. He noticed some popping sounds during his shower, but it was not until he had dressed and walked out toward the living room that he realized his home was on fire.
Duncan said Shove is lucky to have made it out alive, and based on Shove’s account of the events, both men are correct. Within seconds of his escape from the burning house, Shove said he heard a whooshing sound and turned around to see the entire roof collapse onto his home.
“I stood there in my pajamas and socks and watched my house burn,” said Shove. “There was nothing I could do.”
The Six Mile Fire Department had three trucks on the scene — all of which contained water and were used to shuttle water back and forth as approximately 23 volunteers worked to extinguish the fire. Because trucks were unable to get up to the house, hoses were stretched some 75-100 feet from the main road to the burning structure. According to reports, firefighters were on the scene until 10:09 p.m. battling the blaze.
“It was terrifying to watch,” said Shove, who, along with his parents, helped extinguish the fire by shoveling heaps of snow onto it until fire department volunteers arrived.
Perhaps the worst irony of this tragedy is that Shove had been working diligently for the last three years to remodel and renovate his home so that he could qualify for homeowners insurance. At the time of the fire, he was only days away from meeting the requirements. Shove had flashing to install on the roof, but he was waiting for better weather to begin the last project.
Shove is no stranger to adversity in life. Currently staying in his parents’ home, which is adjacent to where his home once stood, Shove has been helping care for his father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. In 2008, doctors discovered a tumor growing on Shove’s heart that has to be surgically excised. He has steadily worked part time for Ryan and Tommy Norris at Toyota of Easley, sending money to a sister in Germany that was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Shove literally escaped from the fire with only the clothes on his back. He lost everything he owned in the fire. The greatest loss, he said, are childhood pictures of his family — his brothers and sisters.
“I just stood there and watched it burn. There was no hope,” said Shove.
While he may have momentarily been without hope, thankfully Shove has not been without help. The American Red Cross was able to give Shove $265 to purchase food and other necessities. In addition, Ryan and Tommy Norris from Toyota of Easley called Shove into the dealership and gave him some much-needed clothing.
“This has all been very difficult for me,” said Shove. “I am usually the one who helps other people.”
Shove worked as a private contractor for the U.S. Military for approximately 14 years and is currently a member of a local Veterans’ Club. He volunteers and participates in all sorts of Veteran related parades and activities — including the upcoming Pickens Azalea Festival.
Pat Granger, owner of The Village Inn in Pickens, describes Shove as “a sweet, nice, open-hearted person. He always does things for other people. I can’t tell you how many times he has brought toys up here so that some of our struggling moms would have Christmas for their children.”
As a way of giving back for all that Shove does for the Pickens County community, Granger will be hosting a benefit at The Village Inn in Shove’s honor. She says one of her greatest joys in life is doing things for other people, and it is Granger’s hope that this benefit will help Shove. All of the benefit details have yet to be determined, but Granger estimates it will take place around February 18.
In the meantime, Shove has started cleaning up the burned rubble of his home so that he can rebuild and start over.
“I’ve been driving around trying to find a medium-sized camper I can live in temporarily while I am cleaning up,” said Shove. He is still trying to process all of the events of the last week and said that he is thankful for all the people who have offered him help.
An account has been set up at People’s Bank in Pickens for donations to Shove. The name on the account is David Shove, Jr. Donations can be mailed to the bank at P.O. Box 406, Pickens, SC 29671, attn: Glenda E. Finley.