By CARL SMITH
Starkville firefighters worked throughout Friday night dousing hotspots at a structure fire in the Summer Chase apartment complex.
The fire, which began yesterday after lunch, left a single building destroyed and displaced its residents.
Fire Marshal Mark McCurdy said SFD was dispatched to the scene, located at 300 Carver Drive, shortly after 1 p.m. Engine No. 3 arrived first at the apartment complex, followed by Ladder No. 1, Engine No. 4 and rescue vehicles. Upon arrival, firefighters observed heavy flames and smoke coming from the apartment building’s walls and roof.
McCurdy said only two occupants of the four-unit building were at home during the blaze and both were able to exit the structure safely.
During the firefight, McCurdy said the structure’s roof and floors failed. Despite the risk, firefighters entered the building and rescued tenants Buster and Patsy Slayton’s dog, Elvis. The dog was trapped in its kennel during the fire, and plastic from the enclosure melted onto the dog’s skin. After the fire, Buster Slayton said Elvis was expected to make a full recovery.
“I was at work in Columbus when I heard about the fire. Once I knew they were safe, the first thing I wanted to do is thank those firemen who went in after Elvis,” Buster Slayton said. “I’m not a materialistic person; this dog is like our child. I’m so blessed and thankful that he’s OK because of these fine gentlemen. Material things can be replaced.”
Apartment manager Lynda Woods was in her downstairs apartment at the time of the fire and said she was alerted to the fire by Christopher Burnett.
Firefighters battled the flames for an extensive amount of time, McCurdy said. Although the building could not be saved, McCurdy said SFD controlled the scene well and prevented the fire from spreading to neighboring apartment buildings and brush areas around the complex.
“This definitely wasn’t a quick knock-down because of how the fire had grown,” he said. “Our fire crews did an excellent job holding this fire to one building. We were lucky because it could have easily spread.”
SFD remained on scene through the night and doused the still-smoldering building. Because of the structure’s internal failures, he said investigators would not be able to enter the building and begin an internal investigation. SFD officials could make an official comment on the cause of the fire, but McCurdy said it began on the building’s backside porch and spread quickly up the structure’s walls.
The Northeast Miss. Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to the scene shortly after firefighters arrived. The chapter’s Disaster Action Team assisted residents with short-term needs and provided lodging in local hotels.