Judy Pope stood with her 8-month-old granddaughter planted on her hip and her 6-year-old grandson by her side Wednesday morning at the edge of an area buzzing with activity as fire crews worked to put out hot spots.
She felt grateful her daughter, daughter’s fiancée, and three children made it out safely.
“Thank God. What a mighty God we serve,” she said. “He spared my family’s life, and I’m so grateful.”
Pope’s daughter lives on the second floor of the South Bay Lakes, off Glenn’s Bay Road in the Surfside Beach area. Pope said she rushed over to help when she was alerted about the fire at her daughter’s residence on Clearwater Drive.
Around 5:33 a.m. Wednesday, Horry County Fire Rescue, Surfside Beach and Murrells Inlet-Garden City fire departments responded to the blaze — the cause of which is still being investigated by authorities.
“Initial units on scene found fire on the first and second floor of the apartment building, immediately went into a rescue mode,” said Mark Nugent, HCFR spokesman. “We’re blessed. Everyone is self-rescued.”
Crews remained on scene putting out hot spots after the fire that badly charred two units. Those two units suffered heavy fire and smoke damage. Another two units were damaged by water and smoke, Nugent said.
“We’re blessed none of the occupants had to be rescued,” Nugent said. “No firefighters were injured.”
Pope said her daughter and her daughter’s family were alerted by a nearby neighbor who was up early to go out of town. He noticed the fire, she said, and banged on their door to warn them.
“Material things can be replaced, but their lives couldn’t have,” she said. “I just lost a son in February, so I could not have stood under this again.”
Nugent said it was too soon for fire investigators to determine what sparked the blaze that displaced 14 people. He said seven people on scene received treatment by HCFR EMS for minor injuries, including some smoke inhalation, but none would likely go the hospital for further aid.
The American Red Cross will be assisting those in need after the blaze, and a news release sent out by the organization said they are helping eight adults and six children with finances for food, clothing, lodging, comfort kits containing personal hygiene items, and other essentials lost in the fire.
Nugent encouraged everyone to check their smoke alarm batteries and to have an escape plan established in the event of a fire.