Five teenagers and an Edgecombe County volunteer fireman have been arrested on arson charges after allegedly setting fire to four vacant houses and starting two woods fires, according to a news release issued by the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department.
One of the vacant buildings, the Old County Home, was an Edgecombe County landmark. The news release did not indicate whether or not the suspects acted as a team in setting the fires.
The fires were set between March 28 to May 5, Sheriff James Knight said.
Heartsease Volunteer Fireman Steven Denny, 19, of Tarboro was charged with setting fire to woods on Harts Chapel Road at 10 p.m. on April 18. The Heartsease Fire department responded to the call.
The Old County Home on Old County Home Road was the last structure that was reportedly set on fire.
Firemen responded to the Old County Home fire in the early morning on May 5 to find the wooden structure had completely burned. Christopher D. Watson, 18, and Barbie Taylor, 20, both of Tarboro were charged with arson. Heartsease Volunteer Fire Department responded to that fire, also.
The Old County Home was used for a mental asylum in the early 1900s. County officials kept the lot surrounding the landmark clean. The unpainted building sat approximately 20 feet from the highway.
On the opposite end of the county, the Blount Home, on Fountain Crossroads, was set on fire in the early morning on March 28. Watson, Jamie Harris, 17, and Kenneth Neal, 17, all of Tarboro, and Jennifer Thorpe, 16, Battleboro, were charged with setting fire to the Blount Home.
Watson and Harris were also charged with setting fire to the Mayo Home, on Roberson School Road. The Mayo home burned April 3.
On April 22 firefighters responded to two fires within a few hours apart. Firemen arrived at the Phillips Home, at the intersection of Seven Bridges Road and Old Battleboro Road, to find the structure was totally engulfed. A few hours later, firemen responded to a woods fire on Howard Avenue Extension. Watson, Harris and Taylor were charged with the fires.
Investigations by the fire marshal, the sheriff's department and the N.C. Forest Service found evidence that the fires were deliberately set, according to the news release.
Denny was charged with one count of burning woodlands.
Harris was charged with three counts of burning an abandoned dwelling and one count of burning woodland. Neal was charged with on count of burning an abandoned dwelling. Taylor was charged with two counts of burning an abandoned dwelling and one count of burning woodlands.
Watson was charged with four counts of burning an abandoned dwelling and one count of burning woodlands. Thorpe was charged with one count of burning and abandoned dwelling.
Each of the suspects was placed in Edgecombe County Detention Center under $1,000 bonds.