The father of two children killed following a fire at their apartment complex attempted to save the kids before the flames got too hot for a rescue attempt, according to Irmo fire investigators.
The fire started around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday at the St. Andrews Apartments complex just off St. Andrews Road.
Fire officials say they received a call about a possible fire with entrapment at the location. When they arrived, firefighters learned three people lived inside the residence.
"A male adult and two children were asleep in the upstairs bedrooms in this apartment when they woke with smoky conditions," said a statement from the Irmo Fire Department.
The statement goes on to say the male, the children's father, jumped out a second-story window after realizing he could not safely locate 5-year-old Jamarion N. Martin and 18-month-old Reghin M. Stevens.
Fire crews later pulled the two kids from the home and rushed them to a local hospital, but it was too late.
The Lexington County Coroner's Office has not yet established a cause of death for the two children.
Russell Smith was passing by St. Andrews apartments when he saw the smoke, then heard a man screaming.
"I had my windows down as we were pulling up, and I jumped out and ran to him real quick, and he was pointing going, my kids are in there, please help," Smith said.
The Irmo Fire Department said it's likely fire sprinklers would have saved the children's lives, but building codes did not require sprinklers when the complex was built.
"There were a few times today when I just broke down and cried, because I was thinking God if I could have just gotten in there," Smith said. "Appreciate what you have, because you never know what today might bring. Somebody might say tomorrow, but today, because we don't know how long we're going to be here. We need to really be thankful for our children and out families."
Two units were damaged by the flames, but 33 homes were without power due to the fire.
The American Red Cross is also on hand to assess the situation and see what services they will need to provide. According to preliminary numbers, the Red Cross says 13 adults and five kids need assistance.
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