CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – While on the phone with 911 dispatch early Saturday morning, the 911 caller looked on as the home at 108 Smith Street became engulfed in flames.
"The house is on fire. They have to come now," the female caller told a 911 operator around 4:30 a.m. New Year's Day. [Listen to the 911 call. (mp3)]
The caller and several friends were walking by the home when they saw flames coming out of the windows and called 911.
"There are flames coming from the windows! The fire department has to come now, has to come now," she urged to the 911 operator.
The caller said they banged on the door and broke into the house and yelled inside, but didn't hear a response.
"We don't know if anyone is inside," the caller said. "It's in flames! Someone has to come now! Oh my God."
Authorities say 21-year-old Olivia Saylor of Atlanta was inside the home when it caught fire. She died of smoke inhalation.
"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.
The caller told the 911 operator that they weren't sure if anyone was home, but thought someone might be home asleep.
"Oh my god! The whole house is on fire. Oh my god," the caller said.
As authorities arrived on scene, the caller described the scene to the 911 operator.
"It's so bad. It's so bad … I pray to God no one's in there," the caller said.
Dozens of screams could be heard throughout the call as several people watched on and tried to do everything they could to save Saylor.
During the 911 call, the caller yelled and pleaded with other witnesses to stay away from the house as the fire escalated quickly.
"No! Get out of there! Get out of there!" she said as she screamed for everyone to get safely away.
Charleston firefighters are asking for the public's help to figure out what started the fatal fire. Fire Marshall Mike Julazadeh said investigators are looking at the time frame by looking at photos and trying to get a better idea of a sequence of events Authorities say Saylor had been out for New Year's Eve and took a cab home around 3:30 a.m.
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. The investigation is ongoing and the fire department is asking witnesses to come forward with pictures or information.