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2 blazes in 2 days at Goose Creek apartment building are unrelated, fire chief says

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Workers assess damage at Spring Hill Apartments in Goose Creek on Thursday, October 3, 2019, after two fires broke out in the same unit in two days. Lauren Petracca/Staff

A fire that broke out in a Goose Creek apartment complex Thursday night was unrelated to another blaze that gutted the 16-unit building less than 30 hours before, fire officials said.

Eight departments from Hanahan, Goose Creek, North Charleston, Caromi, Joint Base Charleston and Pine Ridge joined the fight against the first round of flames around 10:15 a.m. Wednesday at the Spring Hill Apartments off Swift Boulevard, Goose Creek Rural Fire Department Chief Bob Maibach said.

The blaze began in a first-floor apartment and quickly spread throughout the H building before officials arrived to put it out, Maibach said. One firefighter was briefly overcome by the heat, and some hydrants weren't functioning properly, but the firefighters managed to evacuate the building and extinguish the flames within a few hours. Nobody else was injured.

Fire damage displaced around 50 people, according to the Red Cross, including the residents in two units where flames made a reprisal around 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Some Goose Creek firefighters had gone home and investigators had begun their analysis by the time they got the call to the second fire, which was across a breezeway from the first blaze, Maibach said.

Structural damage has prevented investigators from determining the precise cause of either outbreak, but the distance between ignition points means the second couldn't be a rekindling of the first, he said. It could be weeks before their investigation is complete.

In the meantime, firefighters have ensured the building is safe, Maibach said, and the Red Cross is helping residents find other accommodations.

Rural Goose Creek battles a blaze of this magnitude only once or twice each year, according to Maibach. 

"We only see a couple of fires a month, and certainly not of this magnitude," he said. "But everything went well."

Apartment fires account for a little less than a third of residential fires reported between 2013 and 2017, according to the National Fire Protection Association's most recent statistics. They are half as likely to result in fatalities as fires in single- or two-family houses.

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