Two people homeless after a large fire

Two people are now homeless after a fire ripped through their home.

The late night blaze happened at a tri-plex on Lee Street in Columbia late Sunday night.

Nearly six fire trucks were on the scene to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby homes.

Two people lived inside the home.

One resident is counting his blessings.

George Belton recalls what happened. "My neighbors were knocking on my door because they could see it better than I could."

The late night knock may have been the saving grace for George Belton.

A fire broke out Sunday night just before 11 o'clock.

Belton, who lives upstairs at the house on Lee Street says he only had a few seconds to get up and get out.

"I got my pants on and got out of there, and my shirt, so here I am now."

With nothing more than the clothes on his back, Belton says he's just grateful to be alive.

"I went into shock trying to get out of there."

Columbia Deputy Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins says the downstairs tenant may have accidentally set this fire.

"She told us she had a kerosene heater and she knocked it over."

Neighbors can only look on in disbelief.

Nearly 30 firefighters battled this blaze.

And after close to 30 minutes, they were able to bring it under control.

Heavy fire and smoke damage has severely damaged the home, leaving Belton without a place to call his own.

Chief Jenkins says, "We are going to be notifying the Red Cross to give these people some assistance because obviously they are being displaced."

The downstairs occupant - where the fire first started - was taken by paramedics to the hospital.

She is expected to be okay.

Chief Jenkins says a firefighter was treated and released there at the scene and estimates damages at roughly $100,000.

He confirmed Monday morning that the kerosene heater was the cause of the fire.