Identities released of 3 killed in Pine Harbour fire; Meth lab found

(Brandon Geier/WCIV)

GOOSE CREEK S.C. (WCIV) -- Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury has identified the bodies of three people killed in a massive apartment fire in Goose Creek Thursday.

Two bodies were discovered Thursday afternoon -- one adult male and one male child. Officials say the two were found in separate apartments at the Pine Harbour complex. The third body was discovered around midnight.

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

Salisbury said Abernathy and Garbe were found in the same apartment, and Raeth was found in an adjacent apartment. He said the cause of death will be released after all test results are received.

Search teams and investigators spent the night at the scene of the fire, looking for clues, bodies and survivors. The Red Cross was also involved and is still working with families that need service.

On Friday officials with the Red Cross said 10 families had been provided financial assistance to help replace food and clothing lost in the fire. Comfort kits filled with personal emergency supplies, toys for the children, the offer of shelter and referrals to the Red Cross' partner agencies were also offered.

The Red Cross initially set up camp at the Goose Creek Community Center, but as of Friday morning had relocated back to the apartment complex. Red Cross communications manager Nancy Olson said 46 people have been displaced, and it's one of the largest fires the organization has ever responded to.

Crews with multiple fire departments were called to the scene of the fire Harbour Lake Drive where witnesses said flames as high as 40 or 50 feet flicked the sky. Smoke from the fire at Pine Harbour Apartments could be seen from miles away on Thursday.

There were mumblings from residents of the apartment complex that a meth lab was found. Residents at the apartment complex say they heard an explosion when the fire started.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office took the rumor of the meth lab seriously on Thursday. Sheriff's office spokesman Dan Moon said the scene would be treated as a crime scene. Moon said the sheriff's office requested the help of the DEA.

The rumors were proven true on Friday as Capt. Rick Ollic with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office confirmed an active meth lab was removed from the building.

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

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