Police: Arson suspect set fires to gain work as contractor

Fire on Rutledge Ave. June 30 (File/Taylor Williams)

By Eric

CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) -- An accused arsonist has been arrested by Charleston city and county investigators. Police made the announcement Monday afternoon during a press conference at City Hall.Investigators say they caught the Charleston man on Friday as he was on his way to set a fire in Hollywood. Officials are not calling this man the 'Charleston arsonist' but they have charged him with three counts of arson and at least one count of solicitation of arson.Officers say one of those fires was set in Charleston, and there could be more.Charleston police say 55-year-old Kenneth Carlton Boone was tracked down and arrested thanks to a call-in tip they received in October. "A man who had been working on housing in Charleston asked an acquaintance to participate in starting a fire in Hollywood, South Carolina," said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.Charleston city and county teams and members of the arson task forced soon exhausted all resources to follow and watch Boone's every move.READ: AFFIDAVITThey said Boone was stopped in his car, while on the way to start the fire in Hollywood."A container filled with gasoline was located in the rear of the vehicle, based on the information developed, Kenny Boone was arrested and charged with solicitation to commit arson," Mullen said.According to law enforcement, Boone is also to blame for two other fires set in Hollywood in August and September, as well as a fire on Montagu Street in Charleston in December of 2010."This individual may account for a number of these but as chief said, there are many ongoing investigations to pursue," said Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon.Investigators said Boone may have been motivated to set fires to gain work as a contractor. Police said he later remodeled the home he's accused of burning at 48 Montagu St. In addition to that, there could be more recruits, people Boone tried to convince to help him."That's why were interviewing a number of people at this point to try to determine if that was a possibility," said Mullen. "Since there was one recruitment, we don't want to eliminate that as a possibility."Investigators did not say if any of the fires Boone allegedly set resulted in any injuries or deaths.Boone has been arrested before. His charges date back to the 1980's for grand larceny, domestic violence, assault and various drug charges.Since 2003, there have been almost 60 suspicious fires in downtown Charleston and most of them started on porches with couches on them.A task force made up of local fire and law enforcement officers was created a year ago to find the arsonist.The Peninsula Fire Arson Task Force will make an announcement on their investigation at a press conference scheduled for Monday at 3 p.m. at Charleston City Hall.Last January, officials with the Charleston Police Department released a sketch of a man they think may have information but said the person is not a suspect.{}A reward amount of $50,000 was announced in January to anyone who may be able to provide information that leads to the arrest of a suspect.If you see anything suspicious, you are urged to call 1-800-92-ARSON or Crime Stoppers at (843) 554-1111.