Amanda Garcia heard a knock on her door at 2 a.m.
She thought someone was playing a joke on her until the banging grew louder. Then someone screamed about a fire.
“I immediately jumped out of bed and grabbed my baby and my wallet,” Garcia said. “My boyfriend grabbed his wallet. We threw our shoes on and ran out the door.”
A two-alarm blaze decapitated a Carolina Forest apartment building early Friday. Multiple people were displaced, though no injuries were reported.
Garcia, her boyfriend and her 6-month-old boy stayed across the street and watched as the top of Building 4949 of The Reserve at Ridgewood Plantation became engulfed in flames. Their apartment was on the second floor.
“It went up really fast and got crazy really fast,” Garcia said. “It was scary to watch it from across the street. There was nothing we could do.”
Although her family was safe, she worried her cat would be trapped inside the inferno.
Fortunately, the cat escaped.
“She ended up being fine, thank God,” she said.
Hours after the fire was extinguished, Garcia and her boyfriend returned to the scene, hoping to collect anything salvageable.
“That was pretty hard to see,” Garcia said. “I was doing OK until they opened the door and I saw the damage that was inside.”
She saw water throughout the apartment, but she began to feel better when she watched people bringing their possessions outside. She was able to find dry diapers for her baby and medication. But the furniture was ruined.
“I have breast milk that was in the fridge that can’t be used anymore,” she said.
Garcia is still trying to process what happened.
“[We’re going] second by second,” she said. “Having my parents down the street definitely helps. We’ve already been on the phone with renters’ insurance and things like that, so we’re going to see what we can get back that was lost.”
The American Red Cross said about 25 people have been impacted by the fire, though that number could rise. Garcia wants her fellow tenants to know they are not alone in this situation.
“We’re here to help anybody,” she said. “I know people in the other buildings were very accommodating. They were giving out blankets, clothes, whatever people needed as they were coming out. The community’s been great.”
Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236