- Associated Press - Friday, January 18, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on evacuation of public housing in South Carolina after gas leaks (all times local):

12:55 p.m.

Officials in South Carolina have released the names of two men found dead in a public housing complex in South Carolina that has now been ordered evacuated because of natural gas leaks.

The Richland County Coroner’s Office said the victims were 62-year-old Calvin Witherspoon Jr. and 31-year-old Derrick Roper. Their bodies were found Thursday morning in separate units of the complex that was built in 1939.

Coroner Gary Watts said Friday that autopsies have been performed but more tests are needed to determine how the men died.

More than 400 people who lived in the Allen Benedict Court near downtown Columbia have been removed and are being placed in other housing units and local hotels.

There is no word on how long it will take to check the buildings and determine what repairs are needed.


12:40 p.m.

More than 400 people have been ordered to leave a public housing complex in South Carolina because of natural gas leaks.

Columbia firefighters began checking for gas leaks after two men were found dead in separate apartments Thursday morning.

Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said they found gas leaks from stoves, water heaters or other appliances in at least 65 of the 244 units at the Allen Benedict Court near downtown Columbia. The complex was built in 1939.

Mayor Steve Benjamin says officials are working to find temporary housing for the complex’s 411 residents.

Jenkins says once all the apartments are inspected, the main gas line to the complex will be shut down and a private company will be called in for fuller inspections and repairs.

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