If you learned about the downtown Charleston fire and road closures as the events were unfolding this morning, you probably have Twitter to thank, even if you don't have a Twitter account.

Within minutes of Charleston firefighters' arrival to the burning Warren Street home, the fire department's Twitter account confirmed the fire and tweeted details about road closures.

The information was quickly shared by news outlets (The Post and Courier included) both on Twitter and on their websites and broadcasts - hopefully getting to you as you prepared for your rush-hour commute.

Fire and police departments tweeting breaking news from their Twitter accounts is hardly new - for example, Mount Pleasant police has been doing it for years - but after some reticence more local departments are starting to jump into the fray.

This has been is a huge help to news outlets trying to report breaking news as accurately and quickly as possible without trying to search for an on-duty spokesman or bother personnel at the scene. It's also beneficial to the departments, which want the same thing.

"We're trying to get out the information as quickly as possible," said Ryan Kunitzer, community educator for CFD.

Kunitzer said he started actively tweeting from the department's account shortly after he was hired a year ago and that it's made a big difference.

But even though a department has a Twitter account doesn't mean they're tweeting regularly or tweeting breaking news. Many of the accounts only tweet educational and self-promotional information and remain reluctant to post information about breaking news.

Kunitzer said the account might not tweet every incident - "If it goes silent for a while that usually means I'm out of town" - but it's refreshing to see more departments giving it a shot.

Here's a list of some other local police and fire accounts on Twitter: