A fire erupted Saturday morning inside a two-story home with no working smoke detector, killing six children and two adults, authorities said.
A woman and a baby were also hurt in the blaze, which was reported around 3:30 a.m. Bob Sharp, assistant chief for the Charleston Fire Department, said the injured child was on life support.
It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze, which appeared to start in the middle of the home's main level.
When firefighters arrived, the house was fully engulfed in flames, Sharp said. They found four people upstairs and five downstairs; all died except for one child. A tenth person escaped to a neighbor's house and called 911, Sharp said.
All of the children who died were 8 years old or younger, The Charleston Gazette reported.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said the two-story wood frame home did not have a working smoke detector.
There was one smoke detector in the kitchen but it was installed too low and would have taken too long to activate, Sharp said. Another broken smoke detector was found near the basement - so essentially there were no working detectors.
"That means people couldn't have been alerted," Jones said. "They didn't have a chance."
Two adult sisters and their seven children lived in the home, police said, according to the Gazette. One of the sisters, Lisa Cater, 26, was among the dead. The other, Latasha Isabelle-Jones, 24, was outside the home and was not injured, the newspaper reported.
The second adult who died was Carter's boyfriend, police said. He did not live in the home and was spending the night, according to the Gazette.
Fire investigators heard from a neighbor that one of the adults in the house may have had a birthday party there Friday night, but that information could not immediately be confirmed, Sharp said.
Jones said it was the worst house fire Charleston has ever seen in terms of loss of life. In 1949, a fire at the Woolworth department store in downtown Charleston killed seven firefighters, according to the Gazette.