Fatal Aiken fire set by arsonist, investigators say

A Montmorenci house fire that killed an Aiken County man and his 2-year-old daughter was purposely set by an arsonist who lit the home ablaze in “multiple areas,” investigators said Sunday.

The torching of the two-story house at 331 Old Tory Trail on Saturday had “multiple areas of origin” and “no accidental means of ignition,” according to the initial findings of an arson investigation on the home led by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.

Although authorities would not elaborate on whether any suspects have been identified in the blaze, Capt. Eric Abdullah, of the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, said his team of investigators collected physical evidence from the scene that he believes should lead to an arrest in the case.

“Even with the tragic loss of two lives, our detectives are optimistic about the outcome of this investigation,” Abdullah said. “We feel confident that once the evidence we collected is analyzed by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, we can pretty much conclude this case.”

The deceased in the housefire include 28-year-old Dunkan Baker and his 2-year-old daughter, each of whom died with “100 percent burn” to their bodies, said Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton.

Sheriff’s deputies found the two inside the home about 10 a.m., after a motorist passing by the family’s home called 911 to report a fire.

The child, whose name has not been released, died immediately, while Baker was pronounced dead about 3 p.m. at Doctors Hospital from smoke inhalation and third-degree burns.

The house, which has a taxable value of $143,360 and is listed in the family’s name, suffered severe damage.

Abdullah said the fire investigation is ongoing, but could not comment further on the type of evidence seized or how long it might take to analyze it.

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