Everyone escaped safely but four families lost their homes to fire just after midnight Sunday on Watson Street in Columbia.
The Columbia Fire Department was originally called to the scene for an automobile fire but the fire had spread to the building before emergency services were on the scene.
Drew Hodges, a resident in one of the townhouses, said he looked out and saw a truck parked in a carport on fire. He and his wife Vicki were able to get four children out of the building and call 911.
Vicki went to the other townhouses and knocked on doors and windows to get others awake. Everyone was able to get out before the fire destroyed the building and a row of cars parked behind the building.
City Police Officer Tracy McCarol was one of the first members of emergency personnel on the scene. He brought fire extinguishers expecting to be fighting a fire of a single vehicle but quickly saw that it would take more to stop the destruction. Columbia Fire Department used Ladder One to drop water from above the building. Breeding, Knifley and Taylor fire departments were also called in to assist and other departments were on standby.
Fire crews were still on the scene after 3 a.m. but the fire was under control. More information will be provided in this week’s edition of the Community Voice.