Volunteer firefighter charged with arson after setting Lancaster, SC house on fire twice

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A volunteer firefighter in Lancaster County is charged with three counts of arson after officials say he intentionally set a house on fire twice and caused damage to another home.

Quentin Lee Belton, 31, a firefighter at the Gooches Volunteer Fire Department, was arrested Friday after the most recent fire Wednesday night, said Doug Barfield, spokesman for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.

Belton set fire to a vacant house on First Street in Lancaster on Wednesday after first setting the house on fire in December, Barfield said.

No injuries were reported. In Wednesday night’s fire, a neighboring house was damaged, Barfield said.

Belton, who has relatives who live near the fire scene, was arrested after an investigation by the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, the State Law Enforcement Division’s arson team and the Lancaster County Fire Marshal’s Office.

Belton is charged with one count of second-degree arson and two counts of third-degree arson. All charges are felonies under South Carolina law. He faces as much as 25 years in prison if convicted of all three charges, state law shows.

In December, Belton alerted passersby to the fire. He was alone in the Gooches fire station Wednesday shortly before the second fire was called out, officials said.

He was investigated after both fires, said Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile and Darren Player, Lancaster County Fire and Rescue Director.

Officials found enough evidence after Wednesday’s fire to charge him for both fires, Faile and Player said.

The Gooches department serves areas south and west of Lancaster to the York County line.

Volunteer firefighters are registered with the South Carolina Fire Marshals’ office, Player said. Friday, Lancaster County officials removed Belton’s registration from the fire service, meaning Belton cannot serve while not registered, Player said.

Belton remains in the Lancaster County jail under a $20,000 bond after an initial appearance in court Friday.

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