WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCBD) – Officials are investigating a large fire that displaced dozens of residents at a West Ashley apartment complex early Monday morning.
Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh with the Charleston Fire Department said a call regarding a structure fire at The Palms Apartments came in just before 5:00 a.m.; he said a 911 caller had reported smoke in the hallway of the apartment units.
The first crews arrived within four minutes and started searching for the involved unit. Chief Julazadeh said they quickly found fire in the 220 building and were faced with some rescues.
“We had people on balconies that had to be immediately rescued from the building,” he said. “We had four or five people that were rescued.”
Crews began attacking the fire on the ground level, and as other units arrived, they reported the fire had already spread into the attic space.
A little over 100 firefighters across several agencies responded to the scene, along with police and EMS.
Fire officials said 56 units were displaced because of Monday’s fire. Of those units, 48 are accounted for. Officials are reaching out to everyone on the lease in each unit to ensure everyone is accounted for.
There is collapse across several buildings. Five of the seven buildings are at the point of being destroyed, according to fire officials. “We had to, fairly early on, evacuate our personnel from the buildings.”
Julazadeh said the Red Cross has responded to aid displaced residents. CARTA also sent buses to the apartment complex to give people a warm place to wait during the early morning hours, and the Charleston County School District also sent buses to help transport people to an off-site meeting point.
Fire officials said they are in the early phase of their investigation and do not have any information about the origin of the fire.
As of Monday morning, there had been no reports of injuries.
“It’s a real blessing, as of this point, we’re praying that it holds that no one has reported any injuries,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. “Thanks to the Red Cross for responding right away, and already local grocery stores and churches have been bringing supplies and helping.”
Mayor Tecklenburg called on the community to help those impacted by the fire – he said people can donate to the Red Cross, who will serve as a point of contact in the recovery efforts.
Julazadeh said the building was not equipped with fire sprinklers. He said it was built before mandates were in place, but that does not mean it wasn’t up to code at the time it was built. Julazadeh said while sprinklers were not mandated at the time, the building would not have been brought up to the current code unless it underwent a major renovation.
This is a developing story. Keep checking counton2.com for updates.