Vehicles, firearms destroyed in blaze

Firefighters battle a barn blaze Tuesday on Johns Island. No one was in the structure, and it took crews about 20 minutes to control the fire.

After responding to a building inferno only a mile from their station, Johns Island firefighters had to cautiously approach the burning barn Tuesday morning because of the ammunition inside.

The fire started ripping through the barn at 3078 Murraywood Road about 10:40 a.m. and was engulfing the 800-square-foot structure when the St. Johns Fire Department arrived. A plume of black smoke floated across the island and over downtown Charleston.

Nobody was in the barn, so about 30 firefighters from three departments took a "defensive" approach, spraying the flames with hand-held hoses and from a ladder truck, said St. Johns fire Capt. James Ghi. Inside, several vehicles, a boat and firearms were destroyed as the roof collapsed.

No explosions were heard, Ghi said.

"You got to worry about the ammunition being ignited when it's heated up," he said. "It's not the same as coming out of handgun or a rifle, but you have to worry.

"Firefighters didn't go in there and expose themselves."

Fire crews prevented flames from spreading to a residence behind the barn, which was destroyed. It took them about 20 minutes to control the blaze.

Though the barn was set more than 100 yards off the road, fire hoses stretched across the street and prompted deputies to close it at Partner Road.

The barn is located within Charleston's city limits.

Mark Ruppel, spokesman for the Charleston Fire Department, said welding was performed in a shop inside the barn. But what caused the fire wasn't immediately known. The owner declined to comment.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or on Twitter at @offlede.