A man has been accused of the fire-related crime after a string of deliberately set fires in Columbia.
According to the Columbia Police Department, Michael McClellan was arrested on Monday and charged with arson in connection with one of the fires.
The 54-year-old McClellan was charged with second-degree arson and first-degree burglary from the May 5 fire at 3517 Beaumont Ave., police reported.
According to the police and the Columbia Fire Department, McClellan is accused of breaking into the empty home and deliberately setting multiple fires causing about $20,000 in structural damage and $3,000 in damage to the contents.
Since April 21, there have been 14 fires in the historically-black section of North Columbia, according to the police. Five of the fires, including the blaze at 3517 Beaumont Ave., has been classified as arson, while police said: “the others have been classified as undetermined.”
According to police, several of the buildings where fires happened have been empty, and “a number of the fires have some evidentiary similarities.”
Before officially saying that five of the fires were deliberately set, fire department Chief Aubrey Jenkins called some of the fires related. He said there’s no other reason for the fires that occurred in April, May, and June to start unless someone started them.
The police and fire departments continue to investigate the other 13 fires, with help from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.