CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Officials have released a 911 call from a witness who saw the smoke coming from the Regal Apartments building in downtown Charleston on Wednesday.
The once-thriving apartment building along Kanawha Boulevard is now a pile of rubble, changing the lives of the nearly 100 residents who lived there and lost everything in Wednesday’s devastating fire. The blaze began around 3:15 Wednesday afternoon, and a caller told 911 operators they could see smoke coming from the roof.
Listen: 911 Call on Regal Apartments fire
Witness: “There’s smoke coming from this building right here.” Dispatcher: “Corner of Ruffner and Kanawha Boulevard?” Witness: “Yeah.” Dispatcher: “Okay, the apartment building?” Witness: “Yeah, the apartments. There’s people in there, too.” Dispatcher: “Okay, where is the smoke coming from?” Witness: “Uh, the roof, and one of the apartments is on fire. Yeah, it has to be. It’s coming from like – I can see it coming out of the side of the building right here. Like the vent holes.” Dispatcher: “Gotcha, and the smoke is coming from, if your facing the building, the right hand side?” Witness: “Yeah, it looks like its coming from the top right window, the top right apartment.”
Demolition on the building began Wednesday night while the flames were still going as a measure to control the fire. Charleston Fire Department Captain David Hodges says demolishing the building is a rare decision, but in this case, it was the best way to control the fire.
Officials say 35 of the building’s 37 units were occupied and all of the nearly 100 residents are safely accounted for, however, while some animals were rescued, at least one resident confirmed that they lost their beloved dog in the fire.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper says the commission plans to donate $25,000 to the Red Cross to help the displaced residents.
With all of their belongings destroyed, the Red Cross and several organizations throughout the Charleston community are working to help the residents get back on their feet.
While some residents are staying with family or friends, Patriot Services Group, which owns the building, says they have also placed residents in temporary, free-to-them housing and are working with the city and investigators to learn the cause of the fire.
Patriot Services Group is continuing its focus and attention on the needs of the residents of Regal Apartments. We have placed each resident in temporary housing, free to them, and have personnel on-site with the displaced residents to continually assess needs and make any needed accommodation available. We are committed to ensuring financial and housing assistance to the displaced residents until each resident is re-housed.
We remain actively engaged with city officials and investigators to understand the root cause of this tragic fire. We have proactively reached out to residents at our additional housing complexes to reassure them of their safety and review complex-specific fire safety planning as an additional precautionary measure. We are extremely grateful for the continued support and assistance from our residents, first responders, city officials and numerous other organizations, too many to thank.
-Patriot Services Group