'Grace of God' helped occupants escape fire downtown, victim says

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The owner of a downtown Charleston home destroyed by fire Tuesday said he and four other people got out "by the grace of God."

Melvin Kizer said all five were asleep when the fire broke out just before 1:30 a.m. at 264 Ashley Avenue.

"I was upstairs in that back bedroom and I could smell there was something wrong and that's what woke me up," Kizer recalled. "By then, my nephew came upstairs. He said look, there's a fire downstairs. We got to get out of the house right here."

Kizer, his sister, his nephew and two of his friends escaped from the flames.

He said it was tough to return to the house and look at the damage in daylight.

"Looking at it right now, I'm, just in awe that we got out of here," he said. "If one person wasn't awake we would have all been in there dead."

Kizer said he lost everything in the fire, including an antique china closet his mother gave him.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury after debris fell on him. He was taken to the hospital to be checked out.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Fire department spokesman Mark Ruppel said the fire is not suspicious.

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