Apartment Fire in North Augusta

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November 11, 2005
Two families are without homes Friday night after a fire destroyed their apartments. But it could have been much worse. North Augusta Public Safety sent out a general alarm, which could have prevented more apartments from going up in flames.

Sherry Chalker was downstairs in apartment 4A when she heard her smoke alarm go off. The fire was upstairs in her daughter’s bed. Sherry’s mother Teresa Barbee rushed when she got the call.

“As long as they’ve been out here I don’t believe there’s anything left,” Barbee said.

And while two apartments are destroyed, there was still the task of saving the others

“With the history of this apartment complex and the fire that happened here in the past, we knew we had to get to the fire quick enough,” said Detective Tim Thornton, North Augusta Public Safety.

When the call came in, a flashback of a fire years ago prompted dispatch to send a general alarm, calling all firefighters even those who had the day off.

“There’s not a firewall to slow the progress of the fire, it’s just open and once it gets up in there it’s searching for oxygen and works its way out,” Thornton said.

The apartments at Plaza Terrace share a common attic, so when the fire breaks through, it spreads placing other apartments in danger.

And that’s what happened here at Plaza Terrace in 1997 with fire displacing many renters.

Emily Hain doesn’t remember the fire here in 1997, but she tells a similar story.

“It was coming through the roof,” Hain said.

“She came inside and said Sissy come out here it’s on fire, and grabs the phone,” said Ashton Wilson, tenant.

Theresa says her daughter has lost everything.

“She’s had to start over so many times,” Barbee said.

And while family possessions are ruined, she still has something to be thankful for.

“I just thank the Lord she’s alive cause it could have been much worse,” Barbee said.

No one was hurt. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.