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'Like Mardi Gras': South Carolina fire officials shut down massive pool party

“I saw a large crowd in the pool, in the area on the side of the pool, and on top of the pool,” the Columbia, S.C. fire chief said.

South Carolina fire officials broke up a large pool party Saturday after they say hundreds of people crowded together without masks.

The party, at the Palmetto Compress Apartment Complex in Columbia, the state’s capitol, was shut down after fire officials received a complaint, according to NBC affiliate WIS.

”It was a perfect storm if anyone had the virus to be passed to one another,” Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said, according to WIS.

Jenkins told South Carolina newspaper The State that the party, which defied the city's mask and social distance ordinances, was “almost like Mardi Gras.”

“I saw a large crowd in the pool, in the area on the side of the pool, and on top of the pool,” he said.

The Apartments at Palmetto Compress in Columbia, S.C.Google Maps

The chief believes there were a few hundred people at the party, which was near the University of South Carolina.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin urged residents to take appropriate precautions.

"Clearly evident in the gatherings we have seen, there is no concern for the social distancing and practice of wearing masks we know are essential in reducing the spread of the virus," Benjamin said in a statement sent to NBC News. "We must all do our part to act in the interest of public safety and community health."

He continued: "Columbia City Council and Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson have reached out to apartment owners throughout the City, including apartments with high concentrations of college students and young people, where there are continued confirmed accounts of large gatherings at pools, and requested these complexes close their pools. The City of Columbia closed all of its public pools months ago in response to the initial outbreaks of the virus."

The party comes as the University of South Carolina reports hundreds of cases of the coronavirus since reopening.

On Thursday, the campus case tracker reported 557 active cases on campus, and 620 cases since August 1. Of the current active cases, 553 were students. Despite the high numbers, the school maintains it is on “low” alert for the virus.

South Carolina has reported more than 118,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, including more than 2,700 deaths.

The Columbia Fire Department did not immediately return NBC News’ request for comment Monday.