Officials say arson is to blame for a fire that damaged 24 apartments at a complex located only blocks away from the University of South Carolina’s baseball stadium earlier this month.
Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said in a Thursday press conference that investigators believe the June 12 fire at The Club at Carolina Stadium was deliberately set, and have ruled out accidental or natural causes.
“We want to make sure that the person or persons responsible for this fire are caught and convicted,” Jenkins told reporters. “Arson is a very serious thing.”
Jenkins gave very few details about his department’s investigation. But the chief did say that investigators want to talk to a man seen in security footage knocking on doors and warning residents about the fire.
Jenkins said officials do not consider the unidentified man a suspect, but said they think he may be able to give more information about what happened that night. “He’s someone we want to thank,” Jenkins said. “And I’m quite sure the apartment complex would want to thank him, as well.”
The fire chief said the man was not a resident, but added his quick actions could have saved some residents’ lives.
The fire caused about $400,000 in damage, according to fire officials.
Anyone with information on the person who warned residents is asked to call the City of Columbia’s Fire Marshal’s Office at 803-545-3701. Anyone who can help with other parts of the fire investigation is asked to call the South Carolina Arson Hotline at 800-92-ARSON.