Unattended Candle Causes Apt. Fire

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – The cause of a multi-family apartment fire has been revealed.  Columbia fire officials say a candle is to blame.  More than a dozen people were displaced after a blaze ripped thorough the Lexington Station Apartments on Longcreek Drive in Columbia Wednesday.  As crews worked to douse flames, the damage had already been done. Displaced families are forced to search for an alternate place to live.  American Red Cross officials try to provide answers and financial support.

“We have volunteers providing emotional counseling, canteen services for residents and canteen services for first responders,” said spokesperson Libby Anne Inabinet.
Sunlight could be seen shining clearly through the main unit, reminding everyone of the fire’s brutal impact. The unit is where resident, Brooks Avant, lived.

Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins says an unattended outdoor candle used to repel insects caused the blaze.  That candle was on Avant’s balcony.

“It’s everything.  All my stuff, from a little kid, man. Everything I’ve acquired, gone.  And I had no renters insurance, either, so none of it is coming back.”

He says as hard as it is to believe, he must move on.

Residents in the adjoining units, however, are not quite sure how to move forward.

“I have no idea.  I will see if [the Red Cross] can help me.  If not, I’ll probably stay with a family member,” said resident, Michael Stearns.

Fire officials say the blaze was accidental and Avant will not be charged with any wrongdoing by the Columbia Fire Department. But they also say they could not speak for the apartment complex or other residents affected.

The damage is estimated to be a half million dollars.

Red Cross officials urge – it is critical for individuals and families to have a disaster plan in place in the case of a fire.