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Apartments destroyed by second alarm fire in West Columbia

West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) – An entire building in an apartment complex off North Lucas Street near Comanche Trail in West Columbia caught fire and was destroyed Saturday afternoon. A second building was also damaged by the blaze at the Riverbank Retreat Apartments. According to firefighters on the scene, the buildings that were destroyed or damaged as a result of the tragedy displaced a number of people that will need assistance to relocate and recover. The apartment fire, which was reported around 4:30 p.m., had heavy smoke and flames pouring out of the building's eaves when the first fire trucks from the City of West Columbia Fire Department pulled up.

Because of the intensity of the fire and the temperature outside, the fire ground commander from the WCFD quickly transmitted a second alarm for more manpower to fight the blaze. Eventually, there were fire trucks and manpower from West Columbia, Cayce, the City of Columbia, the Irmo Fire District, and Lexington County on the scene. That is resources from every department in Lexington County except the town of Batesburg-Leesville. They were all working together with Columbia firefighters to fight the blaze. Multiple units from Lexington County EMS were also on scene including their mass casualty bus that was assisting with cooling the firefighters and rehab.

Because of the intensity of the fire, aerial devices from Lexington County, Irmo, and the City of Columbia were raised above the burning building. Several poured water on the fire from above. One appeared to have its crew working to vent the roof. Once they knocked the fire down, teams could enter the buildings to finish putting the fire out. The fire was under control in less than an hour. It was reported out about 6:30 p.m.

Fire commanders from Lexington County were working with the dispatch center to move equipment around to cover the eastern portion of the county. Most of the manpower and trucks from stations in that area were committed to the fire.

The American Red Cross was notified to assist the residents who were displaced. After the fire, it was determined that multiple units are uninhabitable because of fire, smoke, and water damage. One firefighter was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released.

Monday, West Columbia Deputy Fire Chief Marquis Solomon said that the fire was being treated as suspicous.

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