16 apartments damaged after downtown fire

Firefighters respond to a downtown Charleston fire. (Source: Matt Gladwell / Live 5 News)
Firefighters respond to a downtown Charleston fire. (Source: Matt Gladwell / Live 5 News)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Fire officials say an overuse of electrical wires caused a fire that damaged 16 apartment units in a downtown complex Monday morning.

Charleston Fire Department spokesman Mark Ruppel says they were called out around 10:30 a.m. to the Bridgeview Village Apartments, formerly the Bayside Manor Apartments, located off North Romney Street. He says the fire started in Unit 101C in a back bedroom, due to the overuse of electrical wires.

When firefighters arrived, he says the flames were shooting through the roof of the building. Several residents were evacuated from the building with 16 apartment units damaged.

"My mother was pretty much upset. It's just terrible. She was at work. She got the phone call. Her manager actually brought her down here," Sean Brown said.

Brown says her mother and sister are now without a home.

Ruppel says firefighters launched an interior fire attack and were evacuated from the building because part of a roof collapsed.

"It's always tense and scary, but we want to make sure everyone gets out before the roof does collapse obviously," Ruppel said."Tones are set so they can hear them through their radio, as well as the engine sound audible alarm so they know it's time to get out. Everyone got out safely. Everyone got out as they should have."

Just before noon, firefighters say the fire was under control, but they remained on site to monitor hot spots. Crews also got up on ladders to look in windows to make sure everyone was evacuated.

The Red Cross is helping the people who lived in those apartments, including Brown's mother who's lived in her apartment for the past two years.

"We're going to put her in the hotel and we're going to go from there. We're going to pray first. We've got to pray," Brown said.

Ruppel says one person was taken to the hospital to be checked out after breathing in smoke. There were no other injuries. Crews from Charleston, North Charleston, Saint Andrews, and Saint Johns responded. Ruppel says about 45 firefighters were on scene.

The Red Cross is opening a shelter at Rutledge Baptist Church to provide for the shelter and food needs of those individuals affected by the Bayview Village Apartment Fire.

The City of Charleston has offered the use of CARTA to provide transportation. The Red Cross concluded its damage assessment of the 16 apartments affected, finding 14 destroyed units and two sustaining major damage.

In addition to opening the shelter, to provide for the emergency shelter and food needs of the 27 people, including 12 children affected by the fire, the Red Cross is also providing financial assistance to help replace the clothing lost in the fire.

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