Columbia police are investigating a suspected arson at two homes owned by Governor Henry McMaster, and police say they have a suspect in custody.
The homes are rental properties and several students were living there.
The residents are still shaken up and the neighbors on the street say they are surprised and concerned.
“And I must say I’ve seen lots of things go on on Greene Street before,” said Peg averyt, who lives there, “but I was shocked to see 5 or 6 big fire engines.”
The call came in to the Columbia fire department around 6:30 Tuesday morning. Fire Chief Aubrey said “By the time we got here it had already spread to the second house. We couldn’t stop but we certainly stopped it from spreading to anymore houses.”
The two homes in a residential area near the University of South Carolina are severely damaged.
Property tax records show the houses are owned by Governor McCaster, and are rented to students at USC. The Columbia fire chief says about 12 people are displaced.
Bob Mann with the American Red Cross says they are helping those residents. “We assisted a total of 4 clients, and we were able to help them with lodging.”
More than 40 firefighters responded to the fire, which quickly turned in to a criminal investigation.
Chief Aubrey Jenkins with the Columbia fire department says witnesses came forward with video, and some showed this person of interest.
Chief William Holbrook with the Columbia police department says “It was very apparent that it was an intentionally set fire.”
Columbia police took a person into custody a few hours later, not far from where the fire started.
The Columbia police chief says the person in custody tried to set a third home on fire, but that fire put itself out before destroying the home
Chief Holbrook says charges are expected once the investigation is completed and handed over to the Solicitor.