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An early morning fire at the Hampton Oaks Apartments in North Charleston left 13 families homeless when 16 apartments were destroyed.

"I was sleeping next to the window when I heard someone say ‘fire,'" William Buchanan said.

 Buchanan had just moved to North Charleston from Albuquerque, New Mexico the night before the fire. He was living with sister at the Hampton Oaks Apartments.

"I immediately woke up and it is pitch black dark in the living room. There is so much smoke in the room," he said.

"The fire was coming back to front. It was at the back. We were getting the brunt of all the smoke. We happened to get down the stairs and not 5 minutes later, we were watching the rest of the apartment just take fire," he added.

He was back in South Carolina for less than 24 hours when his life changed.

"I lost everything… my wallet, my identification, my birth certificate, social [security card], driver's license and bank card. Everything gone… every inch of my clothes that I have, except for what I have on now," Buchanan said.

The Lowcountry Chapter of the Red Cross stepped in to help Buchanan and the other families. Early Thursday morning, Red Cross officials gathered those who were affected at Stall High School to start assessing their needs. They later moved to a local church for food and further support.

The Red Cross routinely assists people in these situations with temporary lodging, supplies and resources.

Red Cross volunteers also provide hydration and food to firefighters and emergency personnel while those professionals are on the scene of local disasters like the Hampton Oaks fire.

"On average the American Red Cross, Palmetto SC Region responds to a disaster every 6.5 hours. Since January 1, 2013, the Palmetto SC Region has responded to the needs of more than 1,300 families and 4,000 individuals affected by disaster," Red Cross representative Lisa Quick said.

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