CALDWELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV ) - A Caldwell County man was sentenced to spend at least seven years in prison after pleading guilty to arson and kidnapping charges on Monday.
According to court officials, 34-year-old Timothy Allan Harmon, of Granite Falls, was sentenced to spend seven to 10 years at the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections in connection with a arson at an apartment building in 2017.
Residents of the Oak Tree apartment complex in the Sawmills community woke up to flames on March 9. Eight people escaped the fire, without injury, but the building was heavily damaged. Investigators said they quickly found out the fire was intentionally set.
A man in one upstairs apartment said he had been shut in a back room by someone who was staying with him. Witnesses say he told them that is when the fire started in his living room. He escaped by jumping off a balcony.
The man who reportedly shut him in the room left the scene before fire crews or deputies arrived. Just before noon, warrants were drawn up charging Timothy Harmon with first-degree arson charges.
Court officials said Harmon reportedly "made claims that someone was trying to kill him and set him up to appear to be a drug dealer." Harmon then allegedly told the victim he would "burn the apartment if he was reported to law enforcement," according to court officials.
On the day of the fire, Harmon was allegedly intoxicated and an argument began between the two men, court officials say. Harmon then locked the front door of the apartment, pushed a couch in front of it and began breaking items before setting a fire at the apartment, according to court officials.
The fire started in the back bedroom of the apartment.
Harmon turned himself in to Burke County deputies the following day.
Before going to Burke County deputies, Harmon called the WBTV newsroom to say he was turning himself in. He was charged with first-degree arson and first-degree kidnapping.
He told WBTV's Steve Ohnesorge that the fire was an accident and that it started while he and the man were fighting. Harmon apologized to everyone who lost things in the fire, saying he felt bad for what happened.