Man accused of setting car on fire, with woman inside, arrested - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Man accused of setting car on fire, with woman inside, arrested

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LENOIR, NC (WBTV) -

Authorities in Caldwell County arrested a man Thursday night they believed tried to set a car on fire with a woman and another person inside.

Wayne Burns was arrested during a traffic stop in Long View just across the county line in Burke County overnight Thursday.

It all began, say investigators when a woman returned home to find it had been broken into.

She suspected Burns so she and another person drove out to the home where Burns lived to confront him.

Neighbors say they heard yelling and cursing and Sandra Keller says her husband saw Burns walk back to his house in the middle of the argument.

"He said he saw him get a gas can and walk back down to the roadway."

Trees blocked their view but within seconds they heard a series of explosions and saw thick smoke rising from the scene.

Investigators said they believe Burns poured the gasoline over the top of the Ford Explorer that the woman and other person were in and as he was striking a match, the two inside jumped out and ran.

As the vehicle burst into flames, Burns ran the other way.

Authorities arrived minutes later and the suspect was nowhere to be found.

He told WBTV's Steve Ohnesorge that he didn't do it as deputies were taking him into the Caldwell County Jail. He says the woman came to his house and fired shots at him.

Burns, they said, has a long criminal record and has spent some time in jail.

Neighbors said they have been aware of Burns' scrapes with the law for some time but this, they believe has taken it to another level.

"It's scary to have someone going around lighting cars on fire," said Mark Plemons, who lives on the block.

Plemons said he installed a security system in the past year because Burns was seen several times in the neighborhood. He is keeping a firearm close by "just in case" he said.

So far, the victim has not been identified by law enforcement but officials said the woman and other person in the vehicle that burned escaped unhurt. The vehicle was destroyed.

Wayne Burns is charged with attempted murder, breaking and entering and burning personal property, according to the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office.

Burns is in jail under a $500,000 bond.

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