WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Authorities have released the identity of a 65-year-old man killed Thursday night in an apartment fire in West Columbia.
Lexington County Coroner Harry O. Harman identified the victim as Jay A. Gross of West Columbia. The coroner said Gross died from smoke inhalation.
Firefighters were called to the Granby Oaks apartments on State Street at about 8:15 p.m. Thursday. The apartments are across the street from the Bi-Lo in the Parkland Plaza.
Firefighters say eight units were destroyed and the fire was contained to one building. Four apartments have been classified as a total loss.
"When we opened the door we saw there was a police officer running saying 'get out the building is on fire' so we came down our stairs and noticed the building right next to us was engulfed in flames," Granby Oaks resident Christopher Cox said. "I mean at that point the flames were probably 50 to 60 feet high above the structure and it started to catch the tree between our building. The flames caught the tree and we were worried that it was going to spread to our building."
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
"It will be investigated thoroughly," said Capt. Shane Phillips with the West Columbia Police Department. "Our primary concern is the safety of all the people involved."
The American Red Cross says 12-16 people were displaced.
Crews from Cayce, Lexington County and Columbia fire departments were called to assist.
The apartments were built in 1973 and were not required to have sprinklers.
The fire remains under investigation by the Lexington County Coroner's Office and the West Columbia Police Department.