44 people displaced after fire destroys Upstate apartments

State - Regional

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Firefighters responded to a blaze at Parkside at Laurel West apartments in Spartanburg County on Friday.

According to the American Red Cross, 44 people were displaced.

“We heard like a loud noise [and] we got up to see what it was and it was a fire starting from the leaves,” tenant Hope Brown said.

Brown said within seconds the flames spread to the trees and into the building across the street.

“I immediately called 911,” Brown told 7 News.

The heavy smoke was visible from miles away.

“I’m like something bad is happening over there,” Steven Shelton, who works nearby, said.

“I got a text from another coworker saying that a building in my complex was on fire,” tenant Darby Tippit said. “So I came home to make sure that it wasn’t mine.”

Brown said firefighters responded almost immediately to complex. But she said by then everyone had gotten out.

Several families were frantically searching for their pets trapped inside. Firefighters were able to rescue most of the animals.

Westview-Fairforest Assistant Fire Chief Tracy Williams said the bulk of the blaze was contained within about 30 minutes. However, firefighters worked for hours to extinguish hot spots.

“Do we know if this particular building had smoke alarms and a sprinkler system?” 7 News reporter Stefany Bornman asked.

“It did have smoke alarms, but when this building was built they weren’t required to have a sprinkler system,” Williams answered.

The roof on one side of the building caved in.

“We have heavy damage to the right side, which contains 12 apartments,” Williams told 7 News.

The assistant chief said firefighters checked the damage to the other half of the building. He said those 12 apartments had extensive smoke damage.

The building was declared a total loss.

One tenant told 7 News everyone is required to have renters insurance, but that didn’t ease the burden of watching everything go up in flames.

“They lost everything,” Brown told 7 News. “I can’t even imagine what they are going through right now.”

Williams said no one was hurt in the fire.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

The American Red Cross opened a shelter at First Baptist of Spartanburg to helped the displaced families.

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