Investigators: West Ashley fire started on 2nd floor balcony

Fire forces Wood Bridge Apartment residents to evacuate (Source: Michael Sommers)

WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCIV) -- The fire that displaced 35 people at a West Ashley apartment complex early Tuesday morning started on a second floor balcony.{}

That's according to fire investigators.{}

Firefighters from multiple departments were called to a fire at the Wood Bridge Apartments around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.{}The complex is located along Ashley River Road near Tobias Gadson Boulevard.

According to 911 calls, a Berkeley County deputy used his car's siren to wake up residents and get them out of their homes as the fire spread.

"I woke up heard the alarm going off and came out on the balcony, looked up and the roof was on fire. Heard some people out yelling," said Andre Gibbs, one of the residents.

"People were praying and hanging on to one another and everything. It was really touching," said Debra Cade.

A spokesperson for Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch says crews from the Charleston Fire Department, North Charleston Fire Department, and St. Andrews Fire Department were called to Wood Bridge Apartments.

Charleston fire officials said on the department's official Twitter account that Ashley River Road had been closed in both directions. That lasted until about 6 a.m.

William Kennerty Drive and Tobias Gadson Boulevard remained closed for much of the morning.

Dispatchers say they believe all residents have been accounted for, but fire officials at the scene are still checking because some of the residents may be out of town.

A total of 20 units in the building were affected; the residents are staying warm in an empty apartment provided by the apartment complex. Officials said there was a lot of fire, smoke and water damage to the building.

The Red Cross is assisting people whose homes were damaged in the fire.{}

"The only thing I know is they going to give us a hotel for a few days. After that, we're pretty much on our own," Gibbs said.{}

Billy Cade and his wife are Lowcountry performers. He says more than 40 of his guitars are trapped inside his apartment.{}

"It's gone. So only thing we have is what we have on our backs right now and clothes," Billy Cade said.{}

Red Cross officials said at least 35 people were displaced by the fire. Volunteers are working with those people to help them find food, clothing, and shelter.{}

"There's certain things that my mom gave me and it's the only things that I have left that we brought hear from Wisconsin. it's just irritating to know that they might be in there and I just can't reach them," Debra Cade said.

With more cold weather on the way next week and{}heating systems are running at full force many people are resorting to other sources to keep their homes warm,{}the Red Cross is offering these fire safety tips:{}


  • Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
  • If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away - things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Use generators correctly - never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.



To prevent kitchen fires remember the following:

  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Enforce a "kid-free zone" in the cooking area and make children stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to receive training on the proper use of extinguishers.
  • close video ad
    Unmutetoggle ad audio on off