Former volunteer firefighter accused of setting vacant home on fire twice

Former volunteer firefighter accused of setting vacant home on fire twice
Quentin Lee Belton (Source: Lancaster County Sheriff's Office)

LANCASTER, S.C. (WBTV) - Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office has made an arrest after two fires were set to a vacant home off First Street in Lancaster, S.C.

Quentin Lee Belton, 31, was arrested April 1 and charged with three counts of arson related to two fires at the vacant home. The structure had been vacant for some time with no utilities and boarded up windows. It is owned by a property management company out of Columbia, S.C.

Firefighters from local departments, the Lancaster County Fire Marshal, and deputies of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office responded to a fire at the house at about 10 p.m. Dec. 5. The fire was extinguished but substantial damage was done to the back wall of the structure where the fire is believed to have started.

The cause and origin of the fire were suspicious, and the fire marshal and investigators with the sheriff’s office and the Multijurisdictional Violent Crime Task Force launched an investigation.

Another fire was reported at the house about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday. By the time firefighters arrived, the house was fully involved and was destroyed by this second fire.

A home next door and a storage building in its yard were damaged during the fire. The fire marshal and sheriff’s office and task force investigators along with arson investigators of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division began an investigation into the second fire.

Belton was a volunteer firefighter with the Gooches Fire Department which services the area of these fires. His membership was terminated Friday.

Belton has several addresses but spends substantial time at a relative’s home in the neighborhood. Belton alerted passersby to the first fire.

He was found alone in the Gooches fire station by another member just minutes before the call came out for the second fire.

A search warrant was obtained for the relative’s home Thursday. Evidence believed to be related to the second fire was found in the home. Belton came to the sheriff’s office late Thursday and was questioned about the fires before being arrested.

Belton is charged with Arson-third degree for the first fire and arson-third degree for the second fire.

He is also charged with arson-second degree for damage caused to the neighbor’s property by the second fire. Bonds were set at $20,000.

“Investigators immediately began looking at Belton for the first fire but did not develop enough evidence to make a charge,” said Sheriff Barry Faile. “Unfortunately, he struck again. This time he left enough of a trail for us to put together a good case, and we confronted Belton with this evidence and were able to charge him. This arrest is the result of the joint efforts of the sheriff’s office, the Multijurisdictional Violent Crime Task Force, the fire marshal, Lancaster County Fire and Rescue, and SLED.”

Anyone with information about this or any other case should call the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office at 803-283-3388 or contact Midlands Crimestoppers in one of the following ways: dial 888-274-6372, log onto midlandscrimestoppers.com and click on the “Submit a Tip” tab, or download the P3 Tips App for Apple or Android devices

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