19-year-old woman charged in fatal house fire in Union County

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A 19-year-old woman has been charged in a fatal house fire in Union County, according to the Union County Sheriff's Office.

Monica Kimberly Rivera, 19, faces charges of first degree murder and first degree arson in connection to the fire that happened Wednesday afternoon at the 8000 block of Mill Grove Road near Indian Trail.

67-year-old Susan Macaulay Smith was airlifted to the hospital after the house fire and died on the way, according to the sheriff's office.

Rivera and her sister referred to Smith as their grandmother when Investigators questioned them but there is no biological relation. Union County Sheriff's Deputy Tony Underwood tells FOX 46 Charlotte the only relationship is the Rivera family used to live next door to Smith. The Rivera girls would stay with Smith often.

The fire was reported about 4:30 p.m. Deputies said they were called from someone in the house reporting a person with a knife. When they arrived, they said they saw the roof on fire.

Three people were inside the home at the time of the fire, according to the sheriff's office. Deputies were able to get Rivera and her sister out of the house, but could not get Smith out.

Firefighters arrived and got Smith out, who was then airlifted from the scene and died in flight, according to Tony Underwood, PIO for Union County Sheriff's Office.

The fire was put out and the SBI helped the sheriff's office in figuring out what happened at the home before the fire.

Three deputies were treated for smoke inhalation. 

The investigation has shown that Rivera, Rivera's sister and Smith, who died, were the only three in the home at the time of the fire. Rivera and her sister have been living with Smith at the Mill Grove home for a while, according to the sheriff's office.

This is not the first time Union County Deputies have responded to Mill Grove road home. According to court documents, in July, Rivera was arrested for assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. When Rivera was put in jail, it was Smith who paid to bail her out.

An autopsy will be done on Smith to determine the cause of death.

It's unclear what caused the fire. The cause is under investigation. 

ATF and the Union County Sheriff's deputies are handling the investigation.

Rivera remains in the Union County Jail under no bond and she is scheduled for a court appearance on Friday.