Firefighters need help in deadly fire investigation

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston firefighters are asking for the public's help to figure out what started a fire that killed a 21-year-old woman.

The fire happened in the 100 block of Smith Street early Saturday morning. The Charleston Fire Department went door to door in the neighborhood Monday checking smoke detectors and asking whether residents saw anything.

Charleston firefighters responded to 108 Smith Street around 4:30 a.m. New Year's Day and found the home engulfed in flames.

"They mounted an aggressive interior attack of the fire and during the course of the fire attack they located a victim," Deputy Chief John Tippet said.

Authorities say 21-year-old Olivia Saylor of Atlanta died of smoke inhalation. They say she had been out for New Year's Eve and took a cab home around 3:30 a.m.

"She was found in the living room. It is impossible for us to tell what her intentions were or what she was doing at the time she collapsed there," Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said.

Investigators say the cause of the fire is undetermined, but they know it started on the first floor. They have narrowed down the origin of the fire to either the kitchen or the foyer of the home.

There are other uncertainties in the investigation, like how long was the fire burning.

Mourners left a makeshift memorial of flowers at the home to remember the victim.

The investigation is ongoing and the fire department is asking witnesses to come forward with pictures or information.

"We're looking at time frame. We're looking at photos and trying to get a better idea of a sequence of events," Fire Marshall Mike Julazadeh said. "If anybody that we have not spoken to has information we would like to speak to them."

Friends say Saylor loved animals and she had two dogs and one cat. Firefighters say the cat is still missing. According to the website, her family owns and races champion horses, and a scholarship for students pursuing a career in the thoroughbred horse industry has been renamed in Saylor's name.

The coroner says she is awaiting results from toxicology tests done during Saylor's autopsy.

Firefighters say they did not find a working smoke detector in the home, which is part of the reason why they went out into the neighborhood talking to residents about smoke alarm safety.

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