Updated at 5 p.m. | An early Monday morning fire, involving multiple buildings at West Ashley’s The Palms apartment complex off Orange Grove Road, reportedly caused no injuries as of 8 a.m., according to the Charleston Fire Department. Fire crews continued to extinguish hot spots during the morning rush hour.
“It’s a whole row of apartment buildings and I saw flames out the windows, flames out of the balconies and coming up out of the room on every single building,” said City Paper reporter Skyler Baldwin, who lives in the complex.
Firefighters arrived at the scene about 5 a.m., which is when Baldwin woke up to be surprised.
“You look out of the window and see the orange and smoke through the trees,” he said, adding that about eight of 10 buildings appeared to be involved in the fire. Each building has eight units, he said, adding that his unit apparently didn’t burn, but likely suffered damage from efforts to keep the fire from spreading.
Baldwin said about 30 fire trucks from three departments battled the fire as West Ashley residents watched.
He later added that apartment managers told him they thought seven buildings had been damaged. Baldwin estimated that at least 300 people suffered major losses, including a neighbor he spoke with this morning.
“He just lost everything. I’m relieved that my building was OK and my stuff didn’t burn down and we were able to get a few keepsakes out of my apartment. But there’s so much unknown that we don’t know how much other damage there was.”
Baldwin said displaced residents were being directed to the Masonic Temple on Orange Grove Road to get some food, shelter and care.
The best way to help the displaced families is to send money, said Mandy McWherter, regional communications director for the American Red Cross of South Carolina. The Red Cross is not equipped to accept food, clothing and other items, she added.
About 40% of Americans don’t have $400 to help them get through an emergency, McWherter said. “That’s why the Red Cross is needed,” she added. To donate to the American Red Cross of South Carolina’s Hometown Hero Campaign go to redcross.org/hometownhero.
The South Carolina Red Cross responds to an average of six fires daily, she said. The number increases by 30% during the winter months, she added. Fires in the winter are typically caused by faulty space heaters and people using their ovens to keep warm.
- For fire safety tips, go to RedCross.org.
This is a developing story. Staffers Herb Frazier, Andy Brack and Skyler Baldwin contributed.