Resident injured searching for dog in fire

There is typically an increase in fires during the winter months.

An apartment fire at Tiger Village left significant damages to the structure and one resident with burn injuries after he tried to reenter the apartment to rescue his dog.

The commercial structure fire happened just before midnight on Tuesday and spread throughout multiple apartment units. The heavy smoke and flames were contained to the rear, which is the south side, of the apartment complex.

“Twenty-three fire fighters responding from 10 different pieces of apparatus were on the scene assisting in knocking down the fire in approximately 15 minutes,” a Columbia Fire Department news release stated.   Fire investigators determined the fire originated in the bedroom of one of the apartments. The 40-year-old resident of that unit was transported to University Hospital for burn injuries to his face.

“Sadly, fire fighters located a dog, who was deceased, under the bed in the room of the fire,” the news release stated.

At the time of the fire, 17 occupants were evacuated. Nine occupants were displaced as a result of the fire and smoke damage. According to the release, the apartment’s occupant said he was unsure of the cause of the fire, but said he remembers waking up to flames.

Because the fire happened during inclement weather conditions, the fire department used several specialty pieces of equipment, including two plows to clear snow during operations, a van to transport displaced occupants and Bus 76. The bus provides shelter for evacuated occupants and rehabbing crews, offering customers with blankets, coffee and hot chocolate.

This is the second apartment fire in Columbia in two days.

“It is unusual to have two apartment fires back to back with the area of origin in the bedroom area,” Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said. “Traditionally, the leading cause of fires in Columbia has been unattended cooking. It’s been unusual to see two fires in two days in the bedroom area.”

The fire department is still investigating the cause of the fire, but estimated initial damage for the building are placed at $300,000 and $50,000 to the contents of the affected apartments. Sapp said apartment fires are more common during inclement weather.

“Nationally and even locally, you’ll see a small uptick in the number of fires during the winter months and those typically encompass late November to late February,” Sapp said.

There are a few things people can do to help prevent structural fires, Sapp said.

“We don’t have an exact cause for the fires, but in general, we need to continue our fire prevention efforts that we do year round,” he said. “Don’t leave cooking unattended, don’t leave candles unattended, leave enough space around portable heating devices and watch your electrical loads.”

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