Hilton Head Island condominium fire investigation continues

rlurye@islandpacket.comDecember 20, 2013 

A fire that destroyed several units of Hilton Head Island's Wyndemere Villas on Wednesday night might have started outdoors on a lower floor, according to a fire marshal.

The Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division arrived about 8:30 p.m. at 50 Yacht Cove, where four units were already engulfed in flames, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office report on the incident. All 18 units of building 300 were damaged in the blaze, which smoldered through Thursday afternoon, Fire Chief Lavarn Lucas said.

An investigator for Wyndemere's property insurance company will be assessing the possible sources of the fire, including a grill, a water heater inside a closet and electrical outlets, according to Joheida Fister, the division's fire marshal.

"They're going to rule out all possibilities," Fister said. "That normally takes a little bit of time."

The insurer also will estimate the dollar value of the damage, but that figure was not available Friday.

No one was injured in the fire, but 14 families were displaced, five of which received lodging at a nearby hotel from the American Red Cross, Lucas said.

The remaining families made arrangements on their own or are out of town.

Before anyone can return to stay at building 300, an engineer will have to examine the rest of the building to determine whether it's structurally sound, Fister said.

Several units appear to have sustained relatively minor damage from flames and smoke, but the fire might have weakened floors, ceilings and walls, according to Lucas.

Fister said an electrician might also have to go through the building to inspect damage to electrical wiring.

Fire damages Wyndemere Villas building on Hilton Head Island (1:38)

Hilton Head Island firefighters responded to a fire at a building at Wyndemere Villas at around 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday night on Hilton Head Island. Six of the twenty units in the building have been deemed unsafe according to Hilton Head Island Fire Chief Lavarn Lucas. Delayna Earley/Staff video

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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