News 12 at First at Five / Friday, July 27, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. -- "She was free-hearted, she loved animals, she liked people that loved animals," said Pat Landers, a friend of the victim in Friday morning's fatal fire.
She says the victim was Marlene Leich. She tells News 12 the two of them worked as product demonstrators in grocery stores and shops around Aiken County.
Landers says she talked to Marlene's son this morning.
"He was shocked and all. He said his mother and him had just had an hour-and-a-half conversation [Thursday]," she said.
Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton said Leich died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation. She was 77 years old. A toxicology report is pending.
Fire investigators say the fire may have started near the kitchen in the home. There is no evidence of foul play or arson at this time.
It all happened on Brucewood Street near downtown Aiken. Firefighters arrived on the scene around 3:30 a.m. A neighbor says he noticed smoke around 1 p.m. Thursday night.
Her charred belongings, mostly destroyed, are now piled outside.
Those same belongings gave firefighters a problem.
"It took us a large amount of time to actually locate and find a victim having to go through so much stuff," said Cpl. Jeremy Hembree with the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
After the flames were put out, agents from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division went in to find what started the blaze, but not before firefighters removed more stuff out of the way.
"Because we have to go through all that. We have to look at it to determine if it has anything to do with where the fire started or what may have started the fire," Hembree said.
SLED agents examined a burnt microwave and other appliances, but a cause still hasn't been released. Meanwhile, Landers says her friend wasn't a hoarder -- at least not like ones seen on TV.
"When you're doing demos, you get a lot of things that you save that you might can use in a next demo," Landers said.
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