UNION, SC (WSPA) – A Union woman is accused of setting a fire which killed her daughter and injured three others, including two firefighters, in November 2020.

According to the Union Public Safety Department, 32-year-old Carlene Julie Ann Ratcliffe has been charged with Murder, Homicide by Child Abuse, and two counts of first degree Arson.

Carlene Julie Ann Ratcliffe (From: Union Co. Detention Center)

The fire happened at a home on Second Avenue around 5:40 p.m. on November 25, 2020.

Firefighters arrived at the scene to find the house engulfed in flames with fire coming out of the windows and the front door.

According to warrants, the child’s grandmother was grocery shopping when she returned home to find the house on fire. She suffered severe burns while attempting to rescue a child and was later flown to the JMS Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia for her injuries.

Two firefighters were also burned trying to rescue the child.

“It was the most unreal thing I’ve ever seen,” explained Elizabeth Adams, a neighbor. “When the first fireman walked in, he was in there for maybe a half a second and had to back out because his uniform was just melting off of him. It was crazy.”

The child, 6-year-old Caeli Ratcliffe, was sleeping inside the home when the fire started and died from smoke inhalation.

Warrants stated that Carlene Ratcliffe set the fire and then left the home without seeking help.

“I never want to see anything like that again because the whole time we were watching the fire, we knew the little girl was in there,” said Adams. “Nobody could get to her. All the men in the neighborhood tried. They really tried, but they couldn’t get to her.”

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s Arson Unit and Child Fatality Unit, along with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the ATF were brought in to assist with the investigation.

As a result of the 18-month investigation, Union Public Safety charged Carlene Ratcliffe in connection with the fire.

Ratcliffe is being held in the Union County Detention Center without bond.