South Congaree landlord’s home catches fire days after WIS investigation

South Congaree landlord's home catches fire days after WIS investigation.
South Congaree landlord's home catches fire days after WIS investigation.(Chris Joseph)
Published: Oct. 16, 2022 at 2:38 PM EDT
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SOUTH CONGAREE, S.C. (WIS) - The home of a South Congaree landlord burned Sunday morning, days after a WIS investigation into her properties. It is now under criminal investigation.

Lexington County spokesperson Jessica Imbimbo confirmed to WIS a fire call came in around 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning for the 400 block of Dunbar Road.

The address is the home of Naomi Halter, a landlord who owns multiple mobile home parks in South Congaree.

Imbimbo told WIS firefighters found “heavy fire” coming from the garage and it eventually reached the kitchen. She said the fire was mostly contained in the garage.

She told WIS there was only a minor injury to a firefighter, which was not burn-related. EMS was on the scene but did not make transports to the hospital.

Lexington County Fire Marshals, the South Congaree Police Department, and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the fire.

South Congaree Police Chief Josh Shumpert told WIS there is a criminal investigation. He told WIS Halter was transported to the hospital to be checked.

Halter’s attorney Bryn Sarvis declined to comment on Halter’s condition.

LCSD spokesperson Capt. Adam Myrick confirmed the department is working with the South Congaree Police Department.

On Thursday, WIS aired an investigation into properties at two of her mobile home parks. WIS found roaches, broken water pipes, and leaking wastewater during visits in September.

After the WIS visits, DHEC confirmed Halter had fixed the water pipes and wastewater leak. The agency had spent months attempting to get Halter to make the repairs.

On Friday, a Lexington County magistrate found Halter in contempt of court for failing to treat a roach infestation at a property that WIS featured in the story. However, the magistrate also allowed for the evictions of two residents WIS interviewed to proceed over unpaid rent.

The S.C. Residential Landlord and Tenant Act does not alleviate a landlord’s responsibilities on habitability based on unpaid rent nor does it alleviate the tenant’s responsibility to pay rent based on a landlord’s failure to make repairs.

On Oct. 18, Halter will appeal to the South Congaree Town Council to have her business licenses reinstated. The town revoked them in August.

If the appeal fails, the residents of the four parks Halter operates will have to vacate within 30 days and the parks will close.

That appeal hearing will be at 6 p.m. at the town council chambers.

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