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People jumped, threw baby from balconies to escape Carolina Forest fire

Four people were critically injured after a fire broke out in Windsor Green apartments around 9:12 p.m. in Carolina Forest Thursday. Three others were also taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to Horry County Fire Rescue.

HCFR spokesperson Mark Nugent said several people jumped from a balcony during the blaze. He said the injured did not suffer burns, but did break bones jumping from the balconies.

The fire destroyed at least one apartment building and damaged others near Carolina Forest Boulevard.

Nugent said fire investigators are working to figure out how the blaze started.

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Horry County, Myrtle Beach and Conway fire departments responded to a 4-alarm fire in Carolina Forest Thursday night. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com

A 16-year-old Winsdor Green resident, Blake Cannon, was alerted to the fire when he heard people screaming "fire" and ended up catching the family's baby tossed from a balcony.



"There was a family in the middle of the third floor, they were like 'our baby, can you catch it?' I was like 'Sure,'" Cannon told The Sun News. "So they broke the screen off and counted to three and I caught it and then they jumped out."

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Firefighters fight a 4-alarm fire at the Windsor Green apartments Thursday night. One building was destroyed and six people were taken to the hospital with injuries. jlee@thesunnews.com Jason Lee

Cannon attends Carolina Forest High School and said he just hopes "the family is okay."

"You don't expect a 16-year-old to go back there and run behind the building to see what's going on, but he ran back there to see what was going on, and it's a good thing he was back there," said Joey LaFond, Cannon's father. "I'm just proud."

Real estate listings show 9 units in that building. It doesn't appear to be one of the buildings that burned in a fire in 2013.

A fire at Windsor Green destroyed 26 buildings in March 2013.

Nugent said the building that caught fire Thursday did not have fire sprinklers because they were not required when it was built.

Tara Ewalt had returned home and a different building when the fire began. Initially, she thought the nearby playground was on fire only to see it was on the porch of one of the residences.

She said she yelled to a friend in a nearby building to get to safety. Ewalt tried to call 911, but it would not connect. She and others ran and pounded on nearby doors letting people know of the blaze.

"It was already up the porches and up to the roof," Ewalt said of the fire. "It was going pretty quickly."

Ewalt said she saw one person jump the building as it was on fire.

"It was horrific," she said.

Several neighbors shared stories about watching the events unfold and spoke about how they tried to help.

"We saw a couple people scurrying around and were yelling to get out, that the place was on fire," said Paul Delmadge, a tourist staying in Windsor Green. "It spread really fast."

Delmadge said he could feel the heat from the blaze as he stood on the porch of his unit, which was right in front of the unit that caught fire.

"At one point we heard a small explosion," he added. "I couldn't tell you how high the flames were, it was to the point where we were thinking about getting in the car and leaving."

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Firefighters fight a 4-alarm fire at the Windsor Green apartments Thursday night. One building was destroyed and six people were taken to the hospital with injuries. jlee@thesunnews.com Jason Lee

Lt. Jonathan Evans from Myrtle Beach Fire said the department had a medic unit at the scene. Conway spokesperson Taylor Newell said Conway was assisting with the fire.

Dennis James with The Red Cross in Myrtle Beach said the group was ready to help any displaced residents and was waiting to be called in.

"Definitely we’ll be moving forward as soon as the fire department head calls us in," James said, adding that he didn't yet know how many residents would be displaced.

A GoFundMe page has already been set up for the residents by Sarah Dahlstrom, a member of the Residents of Carolina Forest Facebook page.

Crews from Horry County, Myrtle Beach and Conway fire departments responded.

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