Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- A fire at the Hampton Green Apartments has left about 20 people without a place to stay.
A fire at the Hampton Green apartments near Garners Ferry Road started around 10:10am this morning. Fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause of fire.
While there were no injuries or fatalities, the apartment complex and the Red Cross has been dispatched to assist with the residents who are without a place to live this evening.
"It was a big blaze. The flames were so hot you could feel them fifty feet away," said one resident.
As fire spread through one of the buildings at the Hampton Green apartments, residents say were woken unexpectedly by apartment management to get out. Jamaul Covington lives in the building next door.
"I mean I'm still kind of shaken you know? It was just that close from being our place," said Covington.
Sixteen apartments have been vacated, four top apartments destroyed from fire with four bottom apartments taking on water damage from fire hoses. Cell phone video shows flames and smoke reaching many feet in the air.
"You can barely stand outside because of the smoke in the air and the heat," said Covington.
Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins says the damage is nearly $250-300,000. He says while they have not determined a cause, an initial call to 911 said the fire started on a porch in a box.
"When we got on the scene we had fire and heavy smoke coming from this building," said Jenkins. "But we don't if it came from the box or if someone threw a cigarette. We don't know if it's arson, we don't know if it's electrical, we just don't know at this point."
Pictures sent to News19 from residents show fire covering the entire roof.
"But luckily we got on it in time where we could save half of this building," said Jenkins.
While some residents will have to find a new place to live tonight, others say the unexpected start to their day could have been much worse, without a quick response from the Columbia Fire Department.
"It was so close to my apartment and it could spread with so many tree's around. I was hoping no one got hurt," said Covington.
While there were no injuries related to the fire, one firefighter was transported to the hospital after twisting his leg getting off a truck.
Late Thursday, Bell Partners, which manages the complex, released this statement:
"We are very appreciative of the prompt and effective response by the Columbia Fire Department which limited the damage to 16 apartments, affecting approximately 20 residents. Thankfully, no residents were injured. On behalf of the community, we want to thank the Columbia firefighters for their bravery and professionalism in containing the fire.
"The residents, who have been displaced by the fire, are being assisted by the Red Cross with temporary housing. We are also making any empty apartments at the community available to these individuals. At this point, it is too early to determine how long it will take to repair and rehabilitate the affected apartments. Our goal is to complete repairs as quickly as possible, with the least disruption to the community. "