Mattie McCrorey couldn't sleep. The Rock Hill woman tossed and turned.
Then, just after 5 a.m. Thursday, she wasn't thinking about sleep anymore.
"We heard a boom," said McCrorey, 28. "My husband and I got up and opened the door. My SUV was on fire."
McCrorey's Soft Winds Village Drive house was one of three homes gutted by the Thursday morning fire, Rock Hill Battalion Chief Mark Simmons said.
Two other homes suffered heat and fire damage, he said.
Now four families -- nine adults and six children -- are displaced, said Denise Cubbedge of the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
"I opened my bedroom door and saw something on fire," Eric McCrorey said of discovering the fire.
He opened his front door and saw fire in his carport area, where the couple's Ford Mustang and Ford Expedition were parked. The couple rounded up their children, Jasmine, 13; Jordan, 4; and Eric 6.
"I went through the house saying, 'Get up. Get out,'" Mattie McCrorey said. "I was dialing 911 and running out the house at the same time."
Then the family rounded the house.
"By the time I got around to the front yard, it (the house) was engulfed in flames," Mattie McCrorey said.
Safe across the street, Eric McCrorey turned to view his home of five years.
"The fire got out of hand," he said. "It was spreading."
Before it spread next door to Ajanaku Murdock's house, he got his stepson, Maurice, stepdaughter, Shaneda Streater, and her son, Ka'Mari, out of their house before going back for Maurice's Chihuahua.
"I didn't think it was going to spread to our house," Shaneda Streater said.
But it did.
"It was like a domino effect," Murdock said. "We couldn't do nothing. We lost everything but our lives. God prevented that."
Mattie McCrorey's 911 call came in at 5:10 a.m. The fire department arrived 10 minutes later. McCrorey's house at 400 Soft Winds Village Drive -- the site where authorities believe the fire started -- was deemed "a total loss," Simmons said.
"The close proximity of the houses contributed to the spread of fire," he said.
According to documents from the city of Rock Hill's development services department, the homes in Soft Winds are set back a minimum of 4 feet from the side property lines, exceeding the 3 feet mandated by the 2003 International Residential Code. In 2006, the mandate changed to 5 feet, the document notes.
Still, Murdock said the houses are too close.
"They're fire hazards," Murdock said.
Across the street, authorities investigated the area near McCrorey's Ford Expedition.
It was last driven around 6 p.m. Wednesday and had not given her any trouble, she said.
Hours after authorities contained the fire, Murdock's 7-year-old stepson, Maurice, left for Finley Road Elementary School to "show my classmates and teacher that my dog made it out," he said.
Then reality kicked in.
"We're not going to be sleeping there anymore," Maurice said of his charred home.
Murdock called his wife, Elizabeth, a long-distance 18-wheeler truck driver who was in Texas.
"The fire is bringing her home," he said.
'There's a fire next door'
Paula Peters, 44, knew something was wrong when she heard screaming. She pushed back her bedroom curtain.
"I was like, 'Oh my God, there's a fire next door,'" said Peters, who got her daughter, Michaela, and several pets out of the house.
"When I came out, I realized it was the house next to the one beside us. It was already gone."
Michaela, 8, sat atop a lawn chair covered in a blanket.
"I never had a fire at my house before," she said. "The fire was close."
The Sunset Park Elementary School student is grateful. She didn't lose her possessions.
But Mattie McCrorey lost everything, including her wedding pictures.
"That's material," she said. "I have my life. I have my family. I know God will work it out."