Fire Chief: Anderson apartment fire under investigation - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Fire Chief: Anderson apartment fire under investigation

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The fire-destroyed apartment building. (Aug. 14, 2013/FOX Carolina) The fire-destroyed apartment building. (Aug. 14, 2013/FOX Carolina)
Smoke billows from the apartment complex. (Aug. 14, 2013/FOX Carolina) Smoke billows from the apartment complex. (Aug. 14, 2013/FOX Carolina)
ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Firefighters battled a blaze at an Anderson apartment complex Wednesday morning that  displaced at least 37 families.

Firefighters were called to the Azalea Apartments on Nunnally Road at Highway 187 about 4:30 a.m. for the fire, which they were able to contain to some hot spots by 6:30 a.m. 

The American Red Cross said they are estimating that 70 to 100 people were left without a home because all 40 units in the complex were a loss. They have set up a shelter at Oakdale Baptist Church off of Highway 24 in Townville and will bus residents over there.

Anderson County Fire Chief Billy Gibson said they would lodge the residents at the Budget Inn Express that is located next door, but can't right now because the hotel is without power, because it is on the same transformer as the apartments.

"Could be pretty devastating as far as a loss for these folks," Gibson told FOX Carolina.

He said some families had lost just about everything. The fire was contained mainly to two apartments, but Gibson said the building's design held all of the heat inside, leaving behind a lot of smoke, heat and water damage, making the entire building uninhabitable.

The apartment building is about 30 years old and does not have a sprinkler system, which Gibson said could have helped put out the fire faster and prevent some of the damage.

Gibson said three residents were injured. He said one person injured their legs trying to escape the fire, and two others suffered from smoke inhalation.

One resident said the fire alarms go off from time to time, but they quickly learned Wednesday they are important to pay attention to. Gibson said when firefighters first arrived and went to check on everyone, they found people inside still sleeping and urge people to pay attention and obey fire alarms.

"Always take it seriously, you never know," resident Andrea Cook said. Cook and her daughter described how they ran out of their home with barely any items here.

Another resident, Steve House, said someone banged on his door to let him know about the blaze.

"I took off running automatically, because I didn't know what was going on," House said.

It is still early in their investigation, but Gibson said they think the fire started outside and it's cause is still under investigation on Wednesday night.

Five people were transported to the hospital because of the fire, according to Gibson. He said four people were brought to the hospital for smoke inhalation, and one person for a broken leg.

Gibson said SC 187 was closed until about 8 a.m. because crews were running fire hoses from hydrants across it.

Five fire departments responded to the scene, and one station from Oconee County was on standby.

Anyone wanting to help the families can contact the Red Cross.

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