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Firefighters battling a blaze at a Huger Street house Wednesday escaped serious injury when the second floor gave way.

Five firefighters were on the second story when the floor tilted, causing three firefighters to fall. One held onto a windowsill while another grabbed a wall joist. A battalion chief was able to keep from falling by grabbing onto one of the other firefighters who didn't fall, Assistant Charleston Fire Chief Raymond Lloyd said.

Firefighters responded to a Mayday call and the firefighters were brought to safety within minutes. All three were evaluated by EMS and were allowed to return to their rotation, Lloyd said.

The blaze destroyed the upstairs apartments. The three residents home at the time all escaped without injury.

Jay Floyd said he was walking by the large green building about 9:40 a.m. when he saw smoke coming from the second story. He ran and pointed the smoke out to an officer who was stopped at the intersection and then he ran toward the house.

"I ran back across the street because I know the people who live there," Floyd said.

James Brantley was sleeping in his second-story apartment when he heard Floyd yelling and banging on his door.

"I thought he was kidding with me," Brantley said.

Brantley got out safely. Floyd said he and the officer went to the other side of the building to alert the two men in the other apartment.

One of the men ran out. Floyd said the other attempted to go back inside the burning building.

"I went back in and smacked him by his shoulder and told him, 'Hey, get out of there.' Debris was just coming down right in front of the door there. Luckily, everything is all right."

Lloyd said the cause is under investigation.

SCE&G repaired downed power lines that caused about 1,000 outages.

Reach Andy Paras at 937-5589, aparas@postandcourier.com or on twitter at twitter.com/andyparas.