Several dogs were evacuated by their owners, Sancic said. 
The cause of the fire has not been determined, but neighbors said they heard an explosion. 

"There was a large explosion and lots of smoke," said Joann Caudle, who lives in a nearby apartment. "I grabbed the phone and ran outside, and when I saw the flames, I called 911."

Robert Lewis, another neighbor, ran to the building and started knocking on doors. "I wanted to make sure everyone was out," he said. Lewis praised the firefighters for how quickly they arrived on the scene and took control of the blaze. 

Firefighters were on the scene until about 7:30 p.m. 

At the fire scene, a number of propane gas grills and tanks were visible on the patios of the apartments in the building that was burning. While Sancic would not speculate on the cause of this fire, she said people who live in multi-family dwellings should not store or use propane in their apartments or on their patios. 

Four of the apartment units suffered heavy fire and smoke damage, Sancic said. The other four units may still be habitable, she said. Power was cut off to the entire building, but power was turned back on hours later for two of the units. Those families will be able to remain in their homes tonight, Sancic said. 

The American Red Cross was on the scene, assisting families with housing and other needs. Several of the residents were spending the night in nearby hotels, with funds provided by the Red Cross, Sancic said. 

Reach David W. MacDougall at 937-5655 or
Copyright © 1995 - 2009 Evening Post Publishing Co.

Photo by Paul Bryant
Fredom the cat shortly after being rescued from a fire in North Charleston, SC


Fire leaves 6 families homeless

Blaze hits condominium complex; 
1 cat rescued with pet oxygen mask

By David MacDougall 
The Post and Courier
Thursday, December 31, 2009

Six families were displaced Wednesday when fire ripped through an eight-unit building at a condominium apartment complex off Dorchester Road. 

North Charleston firefighters were dispatched to The Park at Rivers Edge on Cricket Court about 2 p.m., said Bianca Sancic, public information officer. It took about an hour to bring the fire under control, she said. 

Photo by Paul Bryant
Firefighters battle 
condominium complex fire and 
rescue a cat named Freedom.

Callers had reported that at least two of the apartments in the building were on fire. When the first unit arrived, there was heavy smoke and flames were showing. The nearby Ashley River Fire Department also was summoned

Nine pieces of equipment were used to battle the fire, including a ladder truck with a water cannon that sprayed hundreds of gallons of water on the flames.

No one was injured, but a firefighter was taken to a hospital for observation, Sancic said. He was treated and released
At least one cat died in the blaze, another was missing, and one cat was rescued by a firefighter who deployed a pet oxygen mask that was among those recently donated to the department, Sancic said. 

In November the department received a number of the masks from Janet Fincannon, a local pet lover who started a Web site in October to raise money to supply fire departments with pet oxygen masks. In a month's time she raised enough money to supply 51 of the devices to several local departments. 
Below is a facsimile of an article published in the December 31, 2009 Post and Courier about a condominium fire where a cat was rescued with the use of a pet oxygen mask.     
My thanks to Captain Paul Bryant, North Charleston Fire Dept. for the photos. 
"The Pet's Life Saved May Be Your Own"