Massive S.C. Apartment Fire Displaces 34

GREER, S.C. --

Greenville County fire officials said improper storage of household chemicals caused a fire that displaced 34 people at a Greer apartment complex Thursday night.

The fire happened at the Ashton Woods Apartments on Pelham Road about 11:30 p.m.

Firefighters said that building 25 was engulfed in flames by the time they arrived at the scene. They said three other fire departments were called in to help battle the blaze.

"I'm very grateful," said Boiling Springs Fire Chief Steve Graham. "The firefighters did an excellent job of stopping the fire and limiting the amount of damage for the volume of fire they encountered. We're certainly proud of the working relationship we have with our surrounding fire departments to help when you have a fire of this magnitude."

The Red Cross said that 14 volunteers went to the scene just after midnight to help the families find a warm place to sleep. The organization said that a shelter was set up at Shannon Forest Presbyterian Church on Garlington Road was closed Friday afternoon.

"I'm too shocked right now," said Lynn Detrow, who lived in the building. "I don't care about where we are going tonight. I don't care about anything but everybody being safe."

"We always take care of families, whether it's in a shelter situation or whether they are going to be placed in a hotel in the local area," said Brian Scoles, of the American Red Cross. "It's just unfortunate that we have such a large number of families that were affected."

The Red Cross said it has assisted a record number of victims this year. The organization said that it is in need of financial donations. Those can be made at or by calling 864-271-8222.

Several residents said that their pets were caught in the fire. Firefighters were seen bringing out cats and dogs after the fire was under control.

A firefighter was treated at a local hospital for a broken tailbone. A resident was also treated at an area hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

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