A Columbia woman has died after her apartment building caught fire, and investigators are trying to determine whether that fire was deliberately set.
Coroner Gary Watts identified the victim as 80-year-old True Dent Henderson. Henderson, according to Watts, died from smoke inhalation.
Columbia firefighters were called to the fire at the Plantation Court Apartments on South Saluda Avenue.
Heavy smoke and fire was coming from the building when firefighters arrived at about midnight, but they were able to get the flames under control quickly.
The victim was located a short time later.
We don’t know what started that fire yet, but it is the second fire here in less than six weeks and the previous one was deliberately set. It happened in a different building, the result of what one tenant said was someone using a bag or container of a flammable liquid, possibly gasoline, that was ignited on a second-floor landing.
Around that time, Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins and his department were also investigating several other arson fires or attempted arsons in the immediate area, mostly focused on rental housing including duplexes.
Heath Branham, a father of a USC student who lives at the complex, said he has concerns.
“You know we’re concerned with the safety of our kids, of the people who live here and I’m very hopeful they can find out why this is happening and who did it,” Branham said.
The Red Cross is assisting the five people affected by this fire.
The Columbia Fire Department, meanwhile, continues to investigate.
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