11 people displaced after West Ashley apartment fire

Fire officials are still investigating the cause of a West Ashley blaze that displaced 11 people and damaged three apartment homes.

Crews from the city of Charleston, Saint Andrews and North Charleston Fire Departments responded just before 1 a.m. Monday to the fire in the 1500 block of North Avalon Circle, where there was heavy fire coming out of the front door of the middle unit.

The community is off Ashley Hall Road and north of Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.

The occupants of the apartment were sleeping, according to a media release from the Charleston Fire Department, and awoke to a loud noise in the kitchen, where there was a fire near the stove. The resident alerted other apartment dwellers and occupants from all three apartments exited safely.

One of the residents re-entered the middle apartment several times to attempt to extinguish the fire, the release states. But by the time firefighters arrived, the blaze had spread into the attic space.

One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion and was taken to and released from a local hospital. Two occupants of the middle apartment were also taken to the hospital and released due to smoke inhalation.

Charleston County Emergency Medical Services and the Charleston Police Department also responded to the fire.

Fire and smoke heavily damaged all three apartment units of the triplex building. None of the occupants reported hearing a smoke alarm activate and the operational status of the alarms is unknown, the release states.

The cause of the fire is still being determined by the Charleston Fire Marshal Division.

American Red Cross volunteers helped the three displaced families, which included six adults and five children, the organization said in a statement.

The financial assistance will help the fire victims pay for food, clothing and temporary housing, along with personal hygiene items, the statement said.

The Red Cross said it has helped more than 400 fire victims in the Lowcountry since Jan. 1.

People can help the Red Cross help fire victims by calling 764-2323 or going to redcross.org/lowcountrysc.

Melissa Boughton contributed to this report. Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.