Two firefighters fall in pool, one suffers minor burn while responding to Charles Street fire

VIDEO: St. Philip, Cannon Streets reopened following downtown Charleston fire

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Officials with the Charleston Fire Department say two firefighters fell in an indoor pool and another sustained a minor burn injury while responding to a several-hours long fire in downtown Charleston Tuesday.

"Two fire personnel fell into an indoor pool located near an entry door but were able to self-extricate and continue firefighting operations," Charleston Fire Department spokesperson Ryan Kunitzer said.

"One firefighter suffered a minor burn injury to their wrist. The firefighter was evaluated and returned to duty."

Officials said four people escaped the fire at 7 Charles Street, a building tucked in a back alleyway. Homes surrounding the structure were evacuated as firefighters responded.

Officials said the building's location also created issues.

"It can be more difficult to try to get back in there, but that's Charleston," said Kunitzer.

The fire was contained a few hours later, but authorities say fire crews would remain on the scene to watch for hot spots.

Kunitzer said the fire affected the building's electrical service and created an imminent hazard to firefighters when they started attempts to extinguish the fire. He said they had to fight the fire from the outside until electrical services could be isolated.

Failure of the building's roof structure made the effort more difficult, officials said.

They also said what the building was made of may have prevented the flames from spreading to other homes.

"The quick, well-coordinated effort of the crews confined the fire to the structure of origin," added Deputy Chief of Operations John Tippett.

Heavy smoke was reported in the area as they responded.

"I opened the door and saw the smoke and said this is more serious," said nearby tenant Isabella Benesh.

Benesh was asleep when the fire started, but woke up because of what she thought were garbage trucks or fireworks going off.

"[I heard] crack crack crack and [a] pop," she said.

Charleston County dispatch said the fire was called in at 7:48 a.m Tuesday. The Saint Andrews, James Island and North Charleston fire departments assisted Charleston Fire in their response, along with the Charleston Police Department and Charleston County EMS.

Many people in the area were still in bed at the time the fire started.

"I heard a loud knocking on my door," said a nearby tenant Craig Lynberg. "It ended up being my neighbor Isabella, but she had left. So I went downstairs and no one was there, then I looked up to the left and I saw smoke billowing out."

At 9:39 a.m., they said most of the fire had been knocked down.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Copyright 2015 WCSC. All Rights Reserved.