Downtown firebug apparently has struck again

By Harve Jacobs, Live 5 News

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - it's a familiar scene for Charleston firefighters. Yellow caution tape surrounds the burned vacant house on Sumter Street.

Investigators say it's similar to other recent fires in the neighborhood. The blazes  break out in the early morning.

"I don't think he's trying to taunt the fire department," Charleston Battalion Chief Raymond Lloyd said.

But he or she is keeping the fire department very busy. There have been 18 suspicious fires this year alone and nearly 30 in the past four years, all in the area of the Crosstown.

Many of the fires have been set on porches by using patio furniture. In one case, college students had to jump out of windows to safety.

"It's a dangerous thing. Fire grows so fast, moves so quick. Lives can be lost very quickly," Chief Lloyd said.

Experts say whoever is behind the blazes, is getting their kicks from it.

"Once the fire's done, they'll go back and look at it," psychiatrist Dr. Peter Sukin said. "They like to see the fire engines out. They get a certain amount of excitement."

"These are people that have had difficulty growing up. A lot of time the actual Pyromania, fire setting starts when they're young," Dr. Sukin said.

Firefighters are frustrated the firebug keeps getting away.

"My honest opinion? I think it's gonna take a citizen to recognize that something's going on and report it," Chief Lloyd said.  "I think that's gonna be our main break because the fires are a crime of opportunity and there's nothing really there to pinpoint a certain person."

That means someone most likely will have to be at the right place at the right time, to catch the culprit.