'Enraged' meth lab fire witness claims blaze could have been prevented

GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - Angry and fearing for their safety. Witnesses to a meth lab fire say that's how they're feeling five days after a blaze claimed three lives at Pine Harbour Apartments in Goose Creek. One resident believes the fire may have even been preventable.

"A lot of people are enraged," said a witness of the fire wishing to remain anonymous. "They really are. They're not happy and I'm one of them."

In a conversation outside of Pine Harbour, Tuesday, the witness said he was just 50 feet away from the building that caught fire.

"It was actually a lot worse in person to actually see the carnage and to see the flames," he said.

The witness pulled out his cell phone and began recording the fire. The video he captured shows thick black smoke streaming out of the apartment buildings high into the air.

"Those first few minutes were crazy man," he relayed. "It was people running around not really knowing what's going on. It's nothing like I've ever seen before, personally. That made a lot of people fear for their safety. I feel like this could have been prevented. I really do."

The resident and witness says people in the community alerted Pine Harbour management months before the fire that something was going on in the apartment where Berkeley County Deputies would later find a meth lab.

"For us to notify the people that we're supposed to notify thinking they'd take the proper steps and they really don't do that, that puts us in a bind," he said. "We pay to live here and be safe...and then to feel like for something like that to happen and for the magnitude like that to happen. It's not good."

A message was left with Pine Harbour management to confirm whether they were alerted about a problem in one of their buildings like the witness claims. They have yet to return the call.

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

Berkeley County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dan Moon said the fire is being treated as a crime scene.  DEA and SLED are assisting deputies in the investigation.

Copyright 2012 WCSC. All rights reserved.