North Carolina — For the group of college buddies spending a late-season weekend at a friend's beach house, the deck overlooking a canal was the center of their good times.
It was where they talked, listened to music and danced late into the night. But investigators fear the deck just two blocks from the beach may also have been the starting point of a fast-moving fire that killed seven people, including a group of high school friends who went off to college together.
"It sounded like they were having a good time. Unfortunately, the fire didn't show any mercy," said Terry Walden, whose 19-year-old daughter, Allison, died in the blaze. "They probably never woke up."
The storm of fire and smoke - so daunting that firefighters radioed for backup before they even arrived at the scene - enveloped the home early Sunday, killing six students from the University of South Carolina and one from Clemson University. Six other South Carolina students in the house survived.