To help

Volunteers will continue to work with families of the Delta Oaks Apartments to provide money, food and clothing, the American Red Cross said Wednesday.To volunteer or donate to fire victims, contact the Carolina Lowcountry Chapter at 764-2323, ext. 368, or go to lowcountryredcross.org.The Red Cross also said it will close the emergency shelter it established for the residents displaced in an apartment fire.Four people stayed at the shelter at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in North Charleston Monday and Tuesday nights. The rest of the residents roomed with family and friends.

When fire broke out at the Delta Oaks Apartments in North Charleston, the residents didn’t seem too concerned at first.

They expected it to be contained. But in moments the flames had flared and spread, sending everyone scurrying into the front parking lot with only the clothes on their backs.

Within minutes, all 14 apartment units were a total loss, sustaining extensive fire and water damage in the Monday blaze. At least 42 people were displaced, 19 of them children.

Residents who returned to the site Wednesday near Rivers Avenue and Interstate 26 were relieved that no one was injured, but were absorbing the realization that most of their belongings are gone.

“All of this is replaceable. We can move forward,” said Natassia Mosely, who safely got out of her apartment with her two young children in tow. Everything she owned was lost.

Mosely said she thought the cause to be a grease fire on a neighbor’s stove. Residents had urged fire crews to work faster in that area after they arrived, she said.

The sense of loss became even greater, Mosely said, after “looters” rummaged through some of the empty apartments in the hours afterward, taking televisions, stashes of money and other valuables.

Mosely was among those who said the help received from friends, family, religious organizations and the Red Cross was tiding them over with housing, food and clothing until more permanent housing could be arranged.

“It shows you that God exists and that people show love,” she said.

Others felt rewarded as well, including Avis Swinton. Firefighters were able to rescue Sasha, her 4-year-old Maltese. Though Swinton feels beaten down, she said, “I couldn’t be happier.”

In addition to losing all her furniture and belongings, Swinton said she needs to find a new apartment that accepts dogs.

The fire erupted during Monday’s rush hour, sending up towers of smoke that slowed rush-hour traffic to a crawl and forced closure of the Rivers Avenue ramps.

Bianca Sancic, spokeswoman for the North Charleston Fire Department, said the cause of the blaze, at 5150 Delta St., remains under investigation.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.