Couple calls downtown house fire 'very strange'

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - David Fromholz and his wife Barbara weren't expecting their alarm to go off as early as it did Monday morning. Especially once they realized the sound wasn't coming from their bedside table but from their smoke detector above them.

"That's the worst sound in the world," says Fromholz.

The couple woke up to the blaring noise around 3:30 in the morning and rushed upstairs to wake their neighbor before trying to escape the smoke filling their home.

"When we came downstairs we found the house filled with smoke," says Fromholz. "The kitchen mainly and we got out. In the back part of the house we found their were a couple fires on the porch."

The separate fires troubled Fromholtz, who just began renting the house at 50 Montagu Street in June this year.

"There were two fires, one on the bottom of the porch and one on the top of the porch. It was very strange."

Fromholtz says he could clearly tell there were two distinct spots where the house was burning. One patch near the back door on the first landing heading into the kitchen and another on a bicycle tire on fire near the air conditioner.

"The AC unit all the sudden blew up," says Fromholtz, who believes the time it took them to get outside up until the explosion was less than five minutes. "It whistled for 30-seconds and just blew up. That's when the fire really took off."

The couple watched from the road as at least 12 fire trucks showed up, put out the flames and collected evidence within 10 minutes of the initial call.

The Charleston Fire Department says they are investigating the fire as suspicious but currently aren't linking it to a string of other downtown arson fires. Once evidence is returned from SLED, Firefighters say they'll have a more clear picture if the fire is similar to other downtown arson fires.

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