Man saves neighbor from burning apartment

Firefighters respond to Donaree Village Apartments (WCIV)

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Firefighters rushed to save residents of an apartment building that caught fire along Dorchester Road in North Charleston late Tuesday.

Several fire crews surrounded the Donaree Village Apartments around 11:30 p.m. The apartments are located near Joint Base Charleston and Lambs Elementary School.

Officials say one of the apartments suffered heavy fire damage. Six other apartments were damaged by smoke.

Richard Willard is does maintenance for the complex and has lived there most of his life. He says he was headed to bed when he and his roommate smelled smoke.{}

"Me and my roommate stepped out the front doorand we just saw smoke coming through the seams out of the front door and wefreaked out," said Willard.{}

The fire was coming from the front door of the apartment in front him. Willard says he banged on the door but, got no answer. That's when he went upstairs to wake up the other neighbors.

Willard says when he came back around the building toward the fire, "Ronnie, my neighbor, he was just getting backfrom the store and he was hollering and screaming saying, 'my dad, my dad's inthere. Get my dad!' I went over to him and I said, dude, I just went in there,no one's in there. He said no, my dad's in there. He can't hear."

Immediately, Willard says he broke through a back window.{}

"I went in there, I heard him grunt a little bit,so I broke the rest of the glass and then dove through," said Willard. "Started picking him up, like in my arms. I puthim on the window seal and then grabbed his legs and started trying to push himthrough. Then everybody from the outside pulled him out."

A fire chief on the scene said one elderly man had to be rescued from one of the units. That man was taken to the hospital, but his condition is unknown.

Firefighters helped Willard get the elderly man out of the apartment, as well as a woman with a broken leg and a family of three trapped on a balcony.

Officials say six to eight other people were rescued by firefighters. Those residents did not require medical attention.

Fire crews were wrapping up operations as of 1 a.m. Fire officials said Wednesday afternoon that the fire was caused by overloaded circuits in one of the apartments.