Downtown fire draws quick response

Radcliffe House residents emptied into Vanderhorst Street after a fire Sunday ignited in a second-story apartment in Charleston.

A fire in an apartment building in downtown Charleston Sunday afternoon triggered a massive firefighting response and sent dozens of residents into the streets.

The fire was reported at 12:44 p.m. at Radcliffe House, a five-story apartment building at 61 Vanderhorst St., according to Charleston Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh. The neighborhood is between the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.

Firefighters converged on the building within minutes, hoisting metal ladders to upper floors and stringing hoses for blocks down Vanderhorst Street. Paramedics stood by as firefighters put out the fire and searched the building. Police blocked off Vanderhorst Street to cars between Coming Street and Rutledge Avenue.

The fire was located in a second-floor apartment. Crews from the city of Charleston, St. Andrews and James Island had the fire under control in about 10 minutes, according Julazadeh.

Residents of the 57 apartments were evacuated while firefighters brought the fire under control and blew smoke out of the building.

The fire started in the living room of a second-floor apartment, Julazadeh said. Two residents were sleeping in the apartment when the fire started and got out unharmed. Investigators believe the fire was caused by smoking materials left in the living room.

The building does not have a sprinkler system, but each unit has a fire alarm, Julazadeh said.

The Red Cross gave the two residents who were displaced money to replace items lost in the fire and comfort kits and set them up with temporary housing.

Tony Bartleme contributed to this report. Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.