WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — Residents of West Columbia’s Granby Oaks Apartments expressed shock and amazement on Wednesday after one of their neighbors was charged for ignoring a fatal fire in September.
Daniel Dupuy, 47, a first-floor resident of the 800 State St. complex, was charged with involuntary manslaughter after investigators say he did nothing to prevent the fire that started in his apartment from spreading, to notify authorities or to warn others. The fire was not intentionally set, West Columbia Police Department officers said.
Dupuy, according to the arrest warrant, knew the fire had started on the counter in his kitchen. But someone else notified neighbors and called 911. In the meantime, the fire spread to four adjoining apartments and killed an upstairs neighbor.
Jay Gross, a 65-year-old freelance photographer, was killed after firefighters did not arrive in time to rescue him from his second-floor apartment. He died from smoke inhalation.
Travis Batchelor, a University of South Carolina law student who moved into the complex with his girlfriend over the summer, said he was “shocked” by the news. Batchelor said the couple moved into the complex because it was so peaceful and quiet, inhabited by many seniors.
“What? He just walked out (of the apartment)?” said Batchelor, who lives in another nearby building.
But Walter Liniger, a professor of Southern Studies at USC who also lives in a building close to the one affected by the fire, was slow to judge Dupuy. He said he had “no idea” how he would have reacted.
“We all know what we hope we would do,” he said. “But when it happens, we have no clue.”
The fire displaced residents of eight units of the apartments located across State Street from the side entrance to Parklane Plaza. Fliers posted around the complex asked for donations to benefit those affected. A manager at the complex referred questions to the corporate office in Greenville.
The investigation included the West Columbia Police Department and the State Law Enforcement Division.
Reach Winston at (803) 771-8376.