BISHOPVILLE, S.C. (WIS) - Police say they have arrested the man responsible for setting fire to the Bishopville Post Office twice in four years and trying to set a fire at City Hall.
The most recent fire happened around 6 a.m. Saturday at the post office, officials said.
Some residents in a nearby apartment complex said it took firefighters about an hour to put out what they described as a massive fire.
“I looked out the window and I could see it from my window, it was just nothing but fire and they couldn’t get it out,” one resident said. “It was getting worse and worse as they were spraying the water on it, I was getting nervous.”
A picture sent to WIS by a viewer showed large flames shooting out of the building.
Exactly how much damage was done to the building, and if any mail was damaged, is not yet known.
Jeffrey Scott, 61, was arrested Saturday and charged with arson second degree, burglary and malicious injury to property.
In his arrest report, officials say Scott faces state charges in relation to an attempted arson at Bishopville City Hall on the same morning of the fire at the post office.
However, in a video posted to Facebook, officers with the Bishopville Police Department confirmed Scott is also the suspect in Saturday’s fire at the post office, and a previous fire at the post office back in January 2017.
“State and federal authorities have evidence to prove that Mr. Scott was involved in all of these incidents,” Chief Calvin Collins, of the Bishopville Police Department, said. “We are not looking for any other suspects. It appears that Mr. Scott worked alone.”
The latest fire has left many in the community upset and confused.
“A post office? Why would you set a post office on fire?” one resident said. “Out of all places, they just built it. It’s still unbelievable.”
Scott will face federal charges related to both post office fires, police said. Those have not yet been announced.
He was caught by police Saturday after a “glass break” alarm called them to City Hall.
Officers encountered Scott on the property, but did not immediately see any damage to the building, so they let him go, Collins said.
But surveillance footage from City Hall showed Scott breaking a window and trying to light a rug on fire inside the building using newspaper and an ignitable liquid, according to his arrest report.
Court documents say Scott tried to start a fire “no less than four times within an approximate 20 minutes period.”
Officers quickly relocated Scott after viewing the footage and arrested him, Collins said.
He’s being held in the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center without bond.
Back in 2017, agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) said the fire at the post office heavily damaged the building but did not destroy it.
Nearby residents said that the post office took more than a year to rebuild from the 2017 fire, and now they feel like they are back to square one without a post office.
“I feel like they are going to have to build a whole new one because there’s no rooftop,” one nearby resident said. “As I said, the fire was just outrageous. I’m just glad they were able to put it out.”
Some mail was burned in that fire, officials confirmed.
Though the building was not destroyed, Bishopville residents went without a formal post office for more than a year before renovations were complete.