24 units damaged, 80 residents displaced by large Summerville apartment fire

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 1:08 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2022 at 3:25 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Investigators are working to determine the cause of a massive fire at a Summerville apartment complex Thursday afternoon that damaged 24 units and left 80 people displaced.

The fire was reported at around 12:45 p.m. at Oakbrook Village Apartments on Springview Lane, according to Summerville Police Lt. Chris Hirsch.

Hirsch said police arrived at the scene ahead of firefighters and immediately assisted in evacuating the building to make sure everyone inside made it out safely.

He said there were 40 to 50 firefighters on the scene. Multiple agencies, including the Summerville, North Charleston and Dorchester County Fire Departments, as well as Dorchester County EMS and several police agencies.

When fire crews arrived, they tried to attack the fire from the inside, but the fire had already made it to the attic space, which advanced it to other units, according to Town of Summerville spokesman Mary Edwards.

“All personnel were evacuated from the building, and both ladder trucks were used with elevated master streams to bring the fire under control,” Edwards said.

Over the next few hours, firefighters worked to extinguish any hot spots and the remaining fire. By the time the flames were out, 24 apartment units were damaged by fire, smoke or water and all of them are uninhabitable, Edwards said.

At various times during the fire, firefighters took breaks in whatever shade they could find on the property as additional firefighters moved in.

“We’re all here assisting and just, you know it’s hot out here. We’re providing water, anything we can do to kind of make the firefighters’ job a little bit easier,” Hirsch said.

However, one firefighter was treated at the scene for a heat-related injury but is expected to be okay. No civilian injuries were reported.

Tira Banks, who lives at the complex, says she is actually glad she was in the building at the time. Normally, she would be at work, but she decided to stay home and was able to get her dog out safely with her. She is not sure what would have happened if she were gone.

“It was very intense,” Banks said. “Well, at first it was a whole bunch of smoke and then they called all of the firefighters out of the building, and then it was a big flame ball on top of the building, and it started to spread that way because of the wind.”

The American Red Cross says 80 people were displaced by the fire. They are working with the property manager to ensure everyone has a place to stay.

An officer spoke with a fire marshal on the scene, who said he does not suspect the fire was arson or malicious in nature, according to a Summerville Police Department incident report.

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