Deadly North Carolina Fire Was Accidental

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The mayor of the North Carolina beach community where seven college students died in a house fire over the weekend says investigators believe the fire was accidental, and that it started on a deck.

Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith says investigators told her the fire started on the deck facing a canal on the west side of the house. That side of the building appeared to have suffered the most damage.

She says there's no indication what might have been the cause, and that investigators may never be able to determine that.

The home erupted into a storm of fire and smoke yesterday morning. Six of the seven students who died attended the University of South Carolina. The other attended Clemson. Six other South Carolina students who were in the house survived.

The mayor says it could be a couple of days before officials release the names of the victims. She says none of the bodies has been positively identified yet.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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