West Columbia, SC (WTLX) - When flames engulfed a building at the Granby Oaks apartments in West Columbia, police say it's what one man failed to do that caused the trouble and a death.
"If he had attempted knocking on doors, or putting out the fire with what he had, I have no doubt there would not be a fatality in this fire," said West Columbia Police Chief Dennis Tyndall.
Police arrested Daniel Dupuy, 47, the man they believe unintentionally started the blaze and failed to alert neighbors of the danger.
Investigators believe the fire started when Dupuy left a Zippo lighter in the kitchen of his apartment next to some papers and the stove.
"It was in a containable stage," Tyndall said. "He (Dupuy) had two fire extinguishers within reach, within close proximity. One inside the residence, one just outside the front door. That being said, he made no attempt to put the fire out."
After the fire started, investigators say Dupuy left his apartment and watched the fire take over while he stood next to his car.
"Didn't call law enforcement. Didn't call 911 for the fire department," said Tyndall. "Didn't go upstairs and say hey get out of here the place is on fire. He just stood outside by his vehicle and watched it burn."
During the fire, Jay Gross, 65, died from smoke inhalation. All of the other tenants in the building where the fire happened were displaced.
"His first reaction was to get his wallet and whatever personal items he needed to try and get out of the house as opposed to try and put it out," said Tyndall. "His excuse was he didn't want to make a mess by throwing something on the fire to make a mess in the complex."
Chief Tyndall says Dupuy is criminally liable for the fire and death based on what he didn't do once he knew there was a fire.
"Yes, I think the fire was started by his hand, he did nothing, so he should be charged," Tyndall said. "If he would have knocked on doors or called 911 this charge would probably never exist."