A 71-year-old Aiken man died in a fire at his Columbia Avenue home on Thursday night, according to Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton.

Thomas Jerome Butler, of 466 Columbia Ave., had lived in the home for about two weeks, Carlton said in a statement.

The Aiken Department of Public Safety responded to a structure fire at the address about midnight Thursday, according to Cpl. Jeremy Hembree. When first responders arrived, they saw fire coming from the roof of the home. They later found Butler inside.

Carlton did not indicate a cause of death for Butler.

The smell of fire and soot still lingered in the air on Thursday morning as several of Butler's neighbors and family members stood behind yellow crime tape outside his home.

Butler's niece, Mae Davis, recalled her uncle as “a fun, outspoken guy.” 

“He told jokes all the time. Everyone knew him,” she said, adding that “most people called him T.J.” 

“I just can't find words right now,” Davis said. “He was more than an uncle to me.”

Hembree said investigators with the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division were unable to determine the cause of the fire due to the extent of damage on the home. He added that investigators do not suspect foul play.