2 dead; DEA, SLED called to investigate apartment fire

Photo from the scene. (WCIV)

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) -- Crews with multiple fire departments were called to the scene of an apartment fire in Goose Creek Thursday where witnesses said flames as high as 40 or 50 feet flicked the sky.

Smoke from the fire at Pine Harbour Apartments on Harbour Lake Drive could be seen from miles away at around 12:45 p.m.

"It has engulfed at least three or four apartments," Hilda Record said. "...I don't see them containing it."

Residents at the apartment complex say they heard an explosion when the fire started.

At about 1:30 p.m. fire trucks, ambulances and Berkeley County deputies could be seen inside the complex.

Officials with the Berkeley County Coroner's Office confirmed two people were killed in the blaze -- one adult male and one male child. Officials say the two were found in separate apartments.

"The two bodies that we have found, I can't identify them now," said Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury. "They will be transferred to MUSC for an autopsy which will probably be done tomorrow."

A third person jumped out of a window to safety and was treated for a broken leg.

There were also mumblings from residents of the apartment complex that a meth lab was found.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office is on the scene and taking the rumor of the meth lab seriously. Sheriff's office spokesman Dan Moon says until the agency knows otherwise, the scene will be treated as a crime scene.

"We're gonna check everything out," he said. "We have several units out here."

Among those units is the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office's drug enforcement unit. Moon said the sheriff's office also requested the help of the DEA.

"There were reports that their may have been an explosion. There were reports of possibly a meth lab. We got here not knowing anything other than that. That's why we called in the DEA to assist. The final determination has not been made yet," Moon said.

Moon said all firefighters have been accounted for, and 15 apartments were damaged. One person had been questioned by 9 p.m. Thursday as a part of the investigation. Moon said that person lived in the unit where the fire started.

Investigators with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division's (SLED) arson squad were also called to the scene. Moon said they would be working to determine how and where the fire started.

"It (possible meth lab) wouldn't be totally destroyed. You can find some evidence, some residue of meth ingredients," Moon said.

When asked specifically if the fire was being investigated as arson, Moon replied, "cannot comment right now."

Officials will continue to search what's left of the apartments, possibly overnight. They haven't ruled out the possibility of finding more dead or injured.

"We are looking. We're going to stay here until we search it thoroughly," Salisbury said. "We're also using cadaver dogs. In fact, a cadaver dog was able to locate one of them (the victims).

The Red Cross is also working the scene, providing canteening, including water and snacks to emergency responders and law enforcement officials. Officials with the Red Cross say they are also working to help individuals affected by the fire.

Red Cross communications manager Nancy Olson said 46 people have been displaced. The Red Cross has opened a shelter at the recreation center on Highway 52 next to Goose Creek City Hall.

Olson said it's one of the largest fires the organization has ever responded to.

* ABC News 4's Eric Egan, Valencia Wicker and Brian Troutman contributed to this report.

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