CHARLESTON - It is too early in the investigation of the fire at a residence at 50 Montagu St. to determine if it is linked to the serial arsonist that has plagued downtown Charleston in recent years, officials said.

Charleston City Fire Department spokesman Mark Ruppel said today that evidence collected from the scene is in the hands of the State Law Enforcement Division. Once it is processed, officials will have a better idea of the nature of the fire that has been called suspicious.

No one was injured as a result of the fire which began at 3:45 a.m. around an outside staircase, torching a bicycle and an air-conditioning unit.

The house is situated in a neighborhood mixed with local residents, college students and renters near the intersection of Montagu and Ashley avenues.

The city has experienced more than 80 fires during the past decade believed to be started by a serial arsonist. Most of the those suspected arsons also began on porches, though they took place primarily on the other side of the Crosstown Expressway.