CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – What caused a large fire that destroyed several buildings at a West Ashley apartment complex earlier this year is still unknown.
Five interconnected buildings at the Palms Apartments were destroyed and two others suffered substantial damage during a fire that sparked during the early morning hours of February 7.
Investigators from the Charleston Fire Marshal Division and detectives with the Charleston Police Department worked through the first days to collect information, interview witnesses, and identify the fire’s origin.
However, because of the size and scope of that fire, additional resources were requested from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and their National Response Team (NRT).
Investigators said they were able to determine where the fire originated but have not been able to identify a specific cause.
“At this time, the cause of the fire that destroyed the Palms Apartments is undetermined. While a considerable amount of time and resources have gone into this investigation, a more specific determination cannot be made without additional information,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims. “The investigation will remain ongoing, and ATF encourages anyone with information concerning the fire to contact the Charleston Police Department, the Charleston Fire Department, or their local ATF field office.”
News 2 has followed up with both Charleston fire officials and the ATF for months following the fire and received the same answer each time – a cause has not yet been determined.
But we did learn in April the ATF delayed their investigation after investigators were deployed to a major incident in Indiana – a large fire at a Walmart distribution complex in March – which further delayed the completion of its report.
Investigators said Tuesday they are still working to review any new information that may be submitted in connection with what caused that fire which displaced an estimated 179 residents.
“Any members of the public with photos or video of the building or fire between 4AM and 7AM on February 7th, that were not previously submitted, are encouraged to submit the information to firstname.lastname@example.org,” fire officials asked.
The building – constructed in 1966 – was equipped with smoke alarms inside each unit. But the building was not protected by a fire sprinkler system.