Duo plead guilty to 2 charges in Goose Creek fire

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Two men charged in a fatal apartment fire in Goose Creek pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday afternoon.

Gerald McCabe and Shonni Abernathy said in the hearing that their actions contributed to the massive fire that killed three people and destroyed nearly 20 apartments.They face life in prison and multi-million-dollar fines on meth charges related to the fire.

Officials said the two men were making meth in a bathroom prior to the explosion that triggered the massive apartment fire.

McCabe and Abernathy were federally indicted in July for manufacturing meth and exposing others to serious harm in connection to a fire at the Pine Harbor Apartments in Goose Creek. The investigation of the fire also led authorities to the discovery of a meth lab.

Sixteen units were burned and about 46 people were left without a place to live, according to American Red Cross officials. Witnesses said flames as high as 40 or 50 feet flicked the sky, and smoke could be seen from miles across town.

Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said the three victims were identified as 69-year-old Joseph Raeth, 4-year-old Samuel Garbe and 19-year-old Morgan Abernathy.

McCabe signed a plea agreement last Wednesday. Sentencing will happen at a later date.