Man Arrested for Setting Fire in Vacant Ga. Bowling Alley

June 25--ST. MARYS -- Investigators have arrested a man who they say set a fire that destroyed a vacant bowling alley in St. Marys on Monday night.

Police said a witness identified James Herbert Butler, 20, of St. Marys as a possible suspect in the fire that destroyed TNT Lanes.

Police say Butler admitted to setting the fire after he was questioned by investigators. He has been charged with one count of second-degree arson related to the fire and one count of second-degree arson for a fire at the abandoned Durango Paper Co. paper mill site earlier this month.

Smoke continued to billow from hot spots Tuesday morning as firefighters checked the debris to determine a possible cause. Power to the building has been shut off since it closed more than five years ago.

Horton said the building and its contents are a total loss.

The building will have to be demolished because it is considered a safety hazard, he said.

Horton said he was notified at 11:33 p.m. Monday the building was on fire. By the time firefighters arrived, Horton said flames had already engulfed much of the structure at 2210 Ga. 40.

"There was no stopping it when we got on the scene," he said.

Horton said 20 firefighters from St. Marys, Kingsland and Camden County Fire Rescue battled the blaze.

No one was injured fighting the fire.

The westbound lane of Ga. 40 was closed while firefighters extinguished the flames. The highway reopened about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The building has had a "for sale" notice on the marquis for several years.

Horton, who has served the past five months as interim city manager, said there has been some recent interest in purchasing the building. County Commissioner Gary Blount said the building and its contents were not insured.

-- Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

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