South Carolina

Update: Fire at student apartment complex near USC under control

Columbia firefighters responded to a blaze at Aspyre apartments near USC on Tuesday.
Columbia firefighters responded to a blaze at Aspyre apartments near USC on Tuesday. gflanagan@thestate.com

A fire at a student apartment complex near the University of South Carolina caused several residents to evacuate Tuesday afternoon.

There were no injuries reported, according to Brick Lewis, spokesman for the Columbia Fire Department. Firefighters responded to the blaze at the four-story Aspyre Apartments on Whaley Street at about 12:40 p.m.

Officials are working to determine the cause of the fire. More than a dozen fire trucks responded, as well as officers with the Columbia Police Department and EMS.

Jonathan Davis, 21, has lived at the apartment complex about three years. He said he smelled smoke before the fire alarms went off.

“I ran down the hallway to make sure it wasn’t coming from any of the apartments on my level,” he said. “I went up to the roof to make sure the source of smoke wasn’t from the roof, then I ran down to the leasing office and just told them about the smoke.”

Davis said someone at the leasing office called a construction company that was doing work on the building to check if it was connected to something they were doing, then called 911. At that point, he said, he ran back to the apartments and saw flames between 10 and 20 feet tall.

Firefighters got the blaze under control shortly before 1:30 p.m., Lewis said.

Resident Steven Presti, 23, managed to get his 6-month-old corgi, Murphy, out of the building after the alarms went off.

“He got really excited,” Presti said. “He started going to the back, and I was like, ‘No, no no – we’ve got to go out front.”

Residents were allowed back in the apartments as firefighters started clearing the scene, with the exception of the Brown Building – the part of the complex where the fire happened.

It’s unclear how many people are currently living at the complex.

Glen Luke Flanagan: 803-771-8305, @glenlflanagan

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