Fires can spread quickly with downtown homes so close together

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Fire investigators are still trying to figure out what started the fire that destroyed a downtown home and severely damaged two others Thursday morning. Officials are trying to determine if the fire was set on purpose.

The fire started around 4 a.m. Thursday at a house on the corner of Rutledge Avenue and Bogard Street.

In some areas downtown, 10 feet is the only separation residents have from their neighbors and that may not be a problem, at least until there is a fire...

The fire quickly spread from one home at 247 Rutledge Ave. to the two houses next door, damaging eight cars at the same time.

Marshall Jewett lives in the area of Thursday's fire and his home is a prime example.

"This is my house, but luckily I think we just got this skinny bit there to deal with," Jewett said.

Just two charred car lengths away from a major house fire that woke him well before breakfast, Jewett says the fire was a close call.

Across the street from the blaze, Gary Michael says he is also lucky.

"The heat was so intense it actually melted my blinds," Michael said.

Michael has lived off Rutledge Avenue for as long as he can remember and says a fire like this, so close to home, should be a wakeup call.

"I don't think buildings should be build that close together because of situations like this," he said. "It's really dangerous."

It is especially dangerous in historic downtown neighborhoods.

"Based on the age and history of the area, these fires when we have them in these types of buildings is very probably the fire can spread very quickly from building to building," said City of Charleston Fire Marshall Mike Julazadeh.

Julazadeh says there are two very important things to do if a fire breaks out in a community like the one Rutledge.

"It's very critical, one, to report the fire early while its small and two to get us here so we can prevent this from occurring," he said. "We want to prevent the fire moving from one dwelling to another."

The fire department was able to successfully save Jewett's house from severe damage.

"Someone was watching over us there," Jewett said. "It definitely could have always been worse. We were spared."
The Red Cross is helping the six people who lived at the home that was destroyed. No one was injured in the fire.

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