Woman displaced in West Ashley fire; cat believed dead

Published: Mar. 10, 2013 at 6:52 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 11, 2013 at 3:05 PM EDT
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Harriette McCutchen was displaced by the fire.
Harriette McCutchen was displaced by the fire.

WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - Firefighters are working to determine what caused a large fire at a West Ashley apartment complex which left one woman without a home, and likely her cat, on Sunday afternoon.

Charleston, Saint Andrews, and North Charleston fire departments responded to the Village Square Apartments on Cedarhurst Avenue, off North Woodmere Drive, around 1:40 p.m., according to Charleston Fire Battalion Chief Mike Julazadeh.

They arrived to find heavy fire and smoke coming from apartment 43, and immediately began to evacuate surrounding units.  Minutes later, structural concerns prompted firefighters to exit the building.

Most of the damage was contained to unit 43, but adjacent townhomes were also damaged by smoke and water.  The resident at the apartment, Harriette McCutchen, believes her cat died in the fire.

"It looks like it's all gone and I've got a cat that we can't find and I'm so afraid he was probably killed cause there was no way for him to get out," she said.  "I feel numb, I just don't believe it's happened."

Julazadeh said the remains of a cat in the home had not yet been found, but it was "very possible and unfortunate" the cat may have perished.

McCutchen had left the home earlier that morning.    This is the second fire she has gone through.

Luckily for her, she had renters' insurance, "It's all you can do.  There's nothing left.  Not too many pieces to pick up, we'll have to build them all over again," she said.

Five of the eight units in the building have been declared unsafe until electrical and building systems can be reviewed, Julazadeh said.

One firefighter was treated on scene for a minor burn injury.  No residents suffered any injuries.

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