Apartment fire forces 23 from homes

Fire crews are on the scene of a fire at the Dorchester Village apartments on Dorchester Road at Nelson Street. (Christina Elmore/postandcourier.com)

North Charleston firefighters are trying to figure out what caused an apartment fire that displaced 23 people Monday morning.

Flames broke out at Dorchester Village apartment complex shortly after 7 a.m., North Charleston Fire Department spokeswoman Bianca Sancic said.

The Nelson Street complex is hidden off Dorchester Road at Leslie Drive.

Ashley Brown, 22, was up early with her 2-year-old daughter. It was a chilly morning for this time of year, she said. Temperatures bottomed out in the mid 40s on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Brown turned on her apartment’s heating unit, which she said quickly began to smoke.

She grabbed her daughter and ran just as the flames began to ignite, Brown said.

“My first concern was for her and then myself,” she said. “All my stuff is gone, but we’re here.”

Eight units were housed within the complex’s Building 8. All of the units had significant damage, Sancic said.

Brown said she had family in town she could turn to for support. But she worried about finding another place for her and her daughter to call home.

“I can’t be homeless. Not for this,” she said.

Displaced residents gathered in a parking lot across from the damaged building as North Charleston, Charleston and St. Andrews fire departments extinguished the blaze.

It took about an hour for crews to put out the flames, Sancic said.

Three people were assessed by paramedics, but no one was transported to the hospital, she said.

American Red Cross volunteers are providing emergency supplies, monetary support and temporary housing for those affected by the fire.

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.