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Updated: 5:19 p.m. Tuesday, July 2, 2013 | Posted: 7:03 a.m. Tuesday, July 2, 2013
By Greg Suskin
ROCK HILL, S.C. —
Now 24 people are homeless after an apartment fire early Tuesday in Rock Hill. One of them, Mandi Coley, jumped from a window into her boyfriend's arms, at seven months pregnant."I panicked, but I had to think about my child. So I was just like, the only way out is to jump," she said.Her boyfriend, Samuel White was worried about Coley, and their unborn daughter."I was totally focused on catching her. Completely focused," he said.The fire at Oak Hollow apartments on South York Road started around four in the morning. Everyone was asleep when Rock Hill police arrived.Firefighters and police officers beat on the doors, warning residents to get out.Several police officers caught people who were forced to jump from a balcony to escape.The fire started in a first-floor unit and burned straight up through a unit upstairs, and through the roof.Kevin Davis lived in that second floor unit."I couldn't see nothing, it was just a lot of smoke," he said.Davis got out, and so did everyone else. Reginald Brice says the smell of smoke woke him up."I opened the door and just felt heat coming from across the hall," he said.Suyatta Johnson lives in the burned-out apartment where the fire started.Johnson admitted causing the fire, saying she'd been drinking, and was careless with a cigarette."I did it. Accident or not I did it," she said. "Don't drink and smoke."However, investigators have not determined if a cigarette caused the fire, and they won't say if it's suspicious.Johnson's boyfriend was in the apartment with her when the fire started. Police said he suffered burns, but did not seek medical treatment.Johnson just got out of prison after being charged with spitting on a police officer during an arrest for drunkenness last month.The Red Cross is assisting nine different families left homeless by the fire.Investigators spent much of Tuesday digging with shovels in the apartment where the fire started. Rock Hill police also interviewed Johnson about the fire.
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