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Red Cross helping displaced residents after fire

A large fire at Ash Street Place Apartments Tuesday morning left the residents of 66 apartments without a place to call home.

Fire marshals say the fire started on the third floor of the building due to an electrical issue in a bathroom light fixture. The fire stayed in the center of the building, but other apartments still suffered from water or smoke damage.

Since the fire, the American Red Cross has been helping residents find shelter.

Volunteers have been in the leasing office of the apartment complex all day Wednesday helping people find basic necessities until they are able to begin the process of getting their lives back together.

“We’re going to work with them for the loss of food and clothing and temporary shelter if they can’t get into a place today,” said Red Cross disaster specialist Phillip Iman.

Some residents will be able to return to their apartments once restoration services finish their cleanup. Others, however, will be faced with the tough situation of having to start over completely.

One resident said she was devastated about not having her apartment, but was staying positive about the situation.

“I’m glad everybody’s safe,” said Jennifer Varnado. “That’s more important.”

The Red Cross says they will do everything they can to help the victims move forward.

“We just see people in need and our goal is to meet with them and help them start to get back to normal, just a little bit,” said Iman.

There is no word yet on if the building will be torn down and rebuilt or just renovated.

Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer told ABC 17 News that there does not appear to be enough damage to demolish the building.

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