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Smith Street fire burned for hours; Firefighters treated for heat-related illnesses

This photo was taken from a rooftop a few houses away from the Smith Street fire Friday afternoon. (Megan Rivers/WCIV)

Crews with the Charleston Fire Department were called to a house fire blocks away from a fire response in progress Friday afternoon.

Trucks were dispatched to 48 Smith Street in downtown Charleston at 3:19 p.m. Those driving in the area say smoke was visible from miles away. The fire department was already responding to a fire in the 100 block of Cannon Street.

Two men who live in the home on Smith Street said it started as a small fire that took off quickly. They said the fire spread so quickly they weren't able to grab anything before leaving. Inside the home were also a cat and lizard they believe did not make it out of the blaze.

Fire officials described the home as a very old, historic home with several apartments. In a press briefing just before 6 p.m. Interim Chief John Tippett said the fire spread quickly. Units from several local fire departments responded.

Tippett expected crews to be on the scene of several hours, and said there was some concern about collapse. He also said it is unusual to have two fires so close in proximity and time. He said some of the crews fighting the fire on Cannon Street left to respond to the Smith Street fire.

Several streets in the area were blocked as crews responded. Crews with SCE&G were also called to the scene to monitor and manage gas lines to prevent a larger problem. Power in the area was also temporarily shut off. SCE&G officials said gas was expected to remain off in the area until the morning, at least.

Mayor John Tecklenburg visited Smith Street Friday evening as firefighters continued to battle smoke and flames. He said he mainly wanted to "commend the incredible professionalism and bravery of the Charleston Fire Department." "...We should all be proud of them and remember every day that they are on call for us," Mayor Tecklenburg said.

Chief Tippett said two firefighters were transported for heat-related concerns early in the response. Later in the evening, two more firefighters were transported. Tippett said crews were being rotated due to heat exposure. There was also a civilian transported by EMS, but officials were unsure what that person's injury may have been. Tippett said the woman was transported with minor injuries after running back into her apartment to get a cat.

A tweet from the official account of the Charleston Fire Department stated firefighters would remain on Smith Street through the night to battle hot spots.

Check back with ABC News 4 as we continue to follow this story.

* ABC News 4's Megan Rivers contributed to this report.



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