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More than 60 elderly residents displaced after Columbia apartment fire

Investigators say a fire broke out just before 5p.m. Sunday.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — It’s the alarm he wasn’t expecting.

“I was getting ready to go to bed,” Abu Skakur said.

Shakur lives at Christopher Towers, a Devine Street apartment complex serving the elderly in the Five Points neighborhood of Columbia, South Carolina.

"We got an alarm for everybody to come outside.... As I was coming down the back steps going toward the front entrance, the fire department people were coming in."

According to the Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins, a blaze started around 5 p.m. when a candle fell onto a couch on the 17th floor.

"(The tenant) did try to put it out herself to no avail," Chief Jenkins said.

While the injuries were minor, he said, water impacted the sprinkler system leaving more than 60 residents in search of a place to stay.

Credit: WLTX
Investigators say a candle tipped over onto a couch leading to a blaze that displaced more than 60 people.

"Probably about 65 people will be evacuated out of that certain part," Chief Jenkins said. "We have notified the Red Cross."

Peggy Hill was waiting outside her apartment for guidance after she said she was asked to evacuate.

"I don't have no lights in my apartment at all," Hill said. "So, now I'm waiting for them to come tell me where they’re going to put me.... I just want to go home and get in my bed. That's really what I want."

Steven Skelton was also without power.

"I don't have a place to go, but I'm not worried about what’ll happen next," Skelton said. "Many people are worried."

As the fire department worked to help those with disabilities get out safely, the Chief said there was reason to be thankful.

"I'm just glad nobody really got hurt," Chief Jenkins said. "It could've been worst, if they didn't have a sprinkler system. So, that just goes to show that sprinkler systems do help."

He added that some residents may be able to be placed into vacant apartments at Christopher Towers, but the majority will have to rely on relatives or the Red Cross for assistance.

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