Teen charged in Summerville fire that destroyed 3 homes

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A 15-year-old boy was arrested and charged with setting fire to homes in the Lakes of Summerville community in March.

According to Capt. Jon Rogers with the Summerville police, the teen was charged with burglary and first degree arson in for the act. The teen was taken into custody on May 5.

He boy has not been identified due to his age.

Three homes were destroyed by an early-morning fire in Summerville on March 26, but no one was injured. The fire broke out around 1:30 a.m. in the Lakes of Summerville subdivision off Miles Jamison Road.

Officials have yet to determine what caused the fire, but witnesses say it spread very fast between two connected condominiums. Both condos were completely gutted by the blaze. A third condo unit was also destroyed by smoke and water damage associated with the fire-fighting efforts.

The Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to the scene to offer food and clothing assistance and deliver comfort kits to the victims. Red Cross responders said there were nine victims, including three children, left homeless by the fire.

Neighbors reported hearing multiple explosions, some of which came from gas grills on the homes' back patios.

One of the victims said she was upstairs asleep when she awoke to her neighbor banging on the front door.

Stephanie Bear says her power cut out as she made her way down the stairs. When she opened the door she says her neighbor was frantically screaming about the house being on fire and to get out. Bear says she managed to grab her dog and the dog's leash before escaping the fire.

Bear said as soon as she made it out of her home, there was a huge explosion upstairs near the bed in which she had been sleeping moments before.

Bear talked about how devastated she was to lose all of her belongings when she returned to the scene after the sun came up and she got a better chance to survey the damage. She said she was worried by the fact her smoke alarm never went off.

Neighbors voiced concern over how quickly the two homes became engulfed in flames. Several neighbors said it took less than four minutes for the fire to envelop both homes, with flames shooting as high as 20 feet over the roofs.

The Summerville Fire Department was the first-responding agency and received support from the Old Fort and Pine Ridge fire departments. Neighbors said fire crews did a wonderful job fighting the blaze, and keeping it from spreading despite high winds at the time.

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