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      Downtown Charleston fire now considered 'suspicious'

      Photo Credit: WCIV

      CHARLESTON (WCIV) -- A downtown fire has now been labeled suspicious.

      Fire officials confirm that a blaze at 54 Cannon Street started on the first floor porch of the subdivided home. They say it then spread to the second floor porch just after 4:30a.m.

      A resident of one of the units described feeling "petrifying fear" at the sight of the flames.

      Residents say as many as four people and a dog were inside the home at the time of the fire.

      Everyone escaped the blaze. One resident says a pet dog was thrown to safety from the second floor. The dog was not hurt.

      Investigators are not yet certain what started the fire.

      There have been a series of downtown porch fires over the past few months. It has not been determined if those fires were deliberately set though, nor do we know if this fire is related.

      "The fire is deemed suspicious just due to the origin," said Charleston Fire Department spokesman Mark Ruppell. "

      "It's very concerning, as is any fire in downtown," Ruppell said. "We are asking residents of the city to please be vigilant to please leave porch lights on. Please report anything at all you think may be suspicious."

      Ruppell said the use of smoke detectors played a role in everyone's ability to make it out of the home safely.

      "A smoke alarm actually alerted a resident on the second floor to the fire and he was able to get out safely," Ruppell said. "Neighbors helped alert the resident on the first floor."

      The Red Cross was on the scene Thursday morning and provided the residents of the home, who were all students, financial assistance to help replace the food lost in the fire. They also gave the students comfort kits filled with personal emergency supplies.

      Financial assistance was provided to one of the students for lost clothing.

      We are still gathering information and will bring you more as we get it.

      (This story courtesy WCIV and