Community believes downtown fire was set by kids

Published: Dec. 29, 2011 at 11:58 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2011 at 5:42 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charred wood, melted bed springs and burnt clothing is all that's left of the home Anthony Aiken stayed in at 13 Nunan Street on Thursday afternoon. The house has been in his family for 40 years until a fire left it unrecognizable. But he says the truth of what happened is buried in the homes ashes.

"I don't know who did it but it's the destruction of what they did," says Aiken. "You can see what happened."

Aiken says hours before he was told his house was burnt to the ground, he was awakened by a cinder block crashing through his front door.

"Someone picked this up," said Aiken, recreating the action. "They come on the porch, pick it right up and then boom."

Then he says another cinder block smashed into the door as he was trying to wake up his cousin who also stayed at the home.

"I heard it, I was inside," says Aiken. "I heard a voice... It yelled nobody home."

Aiken says he ran outside and saw two young kids running down Nunan Street but didn't see their faces. 
But it's what his neighbors saw four hours later, when the house went up in flames, that may actually be the key to finding out what really happened.

"It was like a blink of an eye," says neighbor Jaretta Davis. "And it was on fire like wow."

Davis says something caught her eye in Aiken's backyard while she was walking to her next door neighbors apartment.
"There was a bunch of kids running and boom," she says. "That's when we saw the fire."

Another neighbor, Stephan Aiken says he saw the same thing.

"Young kids from 13 to 14 year olds, young kids," says Aiken. "One second there was no fire and the next second it's a huge fire."

Still without answers, Anthony Aiken says he's not only lost everything he owns but also his only place to live.
"Now I'm homeless," he said.
Aiken and his cousin are currently being helped by the Red Cross. They were given temporary shelter, comfort kits and money to replace clothes and food lost in the fire.
The City of Charleston Fire Department says they're still investigating the cause of the fire and all incidents surrounding the blaze Wednesday morning.
Copyright WCSC 2011. All rights reserved.