Kitchen fire sparks blaze at apartment

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A kitchen fire quickly grew out of control in a Port Royal apartment Monday, Oct. 27, causing major damage and injuring the resident, fire officials said.

The fire started when the resident at Stuart Town Apartments was frying food and the oil caught fire. Open doors fanned the flames, which quickly spread to the living areas. When firefighters arrived moments after the 6:37 p.m. alarm, flames already were climbing out of the apartment windows and the front door, Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron said.

An exterior view of the Stuart Town Apartment fire in Port Royal.
An exterior view of the Stuart Town Apartment fire in Port Royal.

The resident suffered burns to his hand, forearm and foot when he tried to carry the hot pan and oil outside of the apartment, Negron said.

“This was a very dangerous situation that could have been even more tragic in this apartment complex,” Negron said. “Residents quickly reported the fire and we had firefighters on the scene within minutes, working hard to extinguish the flames.”

Beaufort County EMS treated the resident for minor burns. Firefighters remained on the scene until about 10 p.m. and contained fire and smoke damage to just the one apartment. An adjacent unit suffered minor water damage.

To combat the fire, 23 firefighters including a crew from Burton fire district worked at the apartment complex near Ribaut Road. That included four fire engines and three squads with support from the Burton Fire District.

“The best way to avoid injury is to leave! Get everyone out of the house and call 911,” Negron said. After calling 911, and if the fire seems very small, some techniques for extinguishing a kitchen fire include turning off the heat, smothering the flames with a lid, or using a fire extinguisher or agent such as baking soda. Never use water on a grease fire, he said.

Another contributing factor to the fire was open doors. The resident apparently left both front and rear doors open as he escaped the house. The flow of oxygen pumped up the fire and helped it grow into the attic spaces via the eaves.