UPDATE: Fire severely damages apartment

Thursday, December 2, 2010 | 8:56 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A fire burned through a downstairs unit of a fourplex at Fireside Apartments on Green Meadows Road on Thursday night.

The tenants and their dog, Dusty, were in the building when the fire started but evacuated safely.

Occupant India Williams told responders she was inside the apartment when she heard a "pop and crackles," followed by the smoke alarm, according to a Columbia Fire Department news release. Williams told responders she found a fire in the back bedroom, left the apartment and called 911.

Peter Terniatis, a tenant living above the apartment where the fire started, said he heard a scream, smelled smoke and then promptly got his sister, Veronica Hernandez, and roommate, Tim Loyd, out of the building. He said he then proceeded to call 911.

Columbia Fire Department Captain Eric Hartman said heavy flames were coming out of the downstairs window and it took firefighters about 10 to 15 minutes to put out the fire.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but it was contained to the downstairs unit’s bedroom, Hartman said.

No one was injured.

One occupant of the building is receiving emergency assistance from the Columbia-Boone County Chapter of the American Red Cross, according to the news release.

The entire building was evacuated to clear out the smoke and assess damage, Hartman said. The apartment had significant fire damage in the bedroom where the fire started and smoke, heat and water damage across the rest of the unit, according to the release. The rest of the building had smoke damage, and the total damage was estimated at $7,500. 

According to Hartman, it is questionable whether the tenants of the apartment above the unit where the fire began could return Thursday and that the tenants of the fire-damaged apartment would be displaced indefinitely. Hartman said tenants of the other two apartments would likely be able to return to their homes Thursday.

Hartman said responders received a call at 5:08 p.m. and the first truck arrived on scene at 5:13 p.m. A total of five trucks and one ambulance were dispatched and six staff officers were present, Hartman said.

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