City of Charleston Fire releases more information after fire displaces 44 residents.

City of Charleston Fire says they are investigating after a fire left 44 resident displaced on James Island.

The Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch Center started receiving 911 calls just after noon today reporting an apartment fire at the EME Apartments off of Central Park Road.

Charleston, James Island, and Saint Andrews Fire Departments, Charleston County EMS, and Charleston PD responded to the scene.

Units arrived in less than three minutes to find residents self-evacuating and fire spreading into the attic area of the two-story, twelve-unit apartment building.

A 2nd alarm was requested bringing additional units from Charleston, James Island, Saint Andrews, Saint Johns and North Charleston Fire Departments.

Firefighters made entry into the building and discovered fire within a second floor apartment and quickly extinguished the fire within the unit, but the fire had already progressed into the attic area and spread the length of the building.

Crews worked for nearly 30 minutes trying to gain control of the fire and searching all of the units before they were evacuated from the building. This action was a precautionary measure due to the roof beginning to fail, and proceeded with a defensive fire attack.

"All of the responders are keeping the displaced residents in our thoughts tonight," said Interim Fire Chief John Tippett. "Crews from Charleston, James Island, Saint Andrews, and North Charleston worked hard to control the fire. Unfortunately, the fire was well into the attic upon arrival. The lack of firewalls gave the fire a full run of the unprotected attic, presenting a taxing situation for the responding departments."

Members from the Fire Marshal Division Fire Investigation Team responded to the scene. Investigators determined the fire originated within a bedroom of a second floor unit and progressed into the attic space. The attic space did not include fire separation, allowing the fire to rapidly spread unchecked throughout the concealed space.

The specific cause of the fire could not be determined, in part due to the substantial damage in the apartment unit. All of the potential causes appear to be accidental in nature.

One occupant of the apartment removed a burning mattress from the bedroom of origin and then returned to gather more belongs and suffered minor burns – he was evaluated by EMS on scene and declined transportation or further treatment.

The origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation at this time.

While searching the building firefighters discovered one juvenile asleep in an apartment and assisted him with evacuating.

Due to the temperatures it was critical to provide adequate monitoring of firefighter's health and safety and rehabilitation resources.

Thanks to Charleston County EMS, CFD Rehab Trailer, Charleston County Rescue, and the American Red Cross this element was quickly established. No firefighter injuries or incidents of heat exhaustion were reported.

The American Red Cross is currently working with property management to provide housing for the displaced residents. At this time, they are working with approximately 44 people that were displaced by the fire.

The incident required the following resources for the initial alarm, second alarm, special call units, and staging: 9 Engines, 5 Ladders/Towers, 2 Rescues, 1 Air/Light Unit, 7 Chief Officers, 3 Fire Marshals, 4 Charleston County EMS Units, 3 Charleston County Rescue Units, Multiple American Red Cross volunteers and their rehab unit.

The Charleston Fire Department would like to provide general reminders to all residents: ?

  • Prepare and practice a home escape plan that includes a family meeting place. ?
  • Exit the home to call 911 and do not reenter after you escape. ?
  • Never take anything with you while exiting. ?
  • Do not attempt to remove burning items from the home – notify those in the area and focus on escaping.

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