Arson suspect worked on other downtown homes that burned

  • Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2012 12:06 a.m., Updated: Sunday, December 16, 2012 12:08 a.m.
Fire Task Force members investigate the area on a porch at 54 Cannon Street where an early morning fire started. Buy this photo

City construction permits show that Kenneth Boone, arrested in connection with three area fires, regularly did repair work in downtown Charleston, including a home on Cannon Street that was the scene of a dramatic early morning fire last year.

As a contractor, Boone sought permits to do repairs in late 2010 at 48 Montagu St. after a fire damaged that home. Boone is charged with third-degree arson in that fire.

A year later, he sought permits to work on 50 Montagu St., which also was damaged in a suspicious fire, according to records obtained under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act. He has not been charged in that fire.

“We are investigating a number of fires and can’t comment on suspects or possible charges at this time,” said Charles Francis, public information officer for Charleston police.

The records show that Boone, 55, of Glenwood Avenue in Charleston, worked on several houses on Spring, Coming and Cannon streets since 2005, including a house at 54 Cannon St. that burned on July 28, 2011.

In that case, an arsonist set fire to the base of the steps to the second-floor porch, trapping a College of Charleston student and his dog. Neighbors gathered and held blankets as flames consumed the house. The student tossed the dog into the blanket and shimmied down a column to safety.

It wasn’t the first fire at that house. Eight months before, another fire broke out, and two months later Boone sought permits to do an estimated $2,850 worth of work, records show.

Boone’s attorney, David Aylor, said his client hasn’t been charged or questioned in any other fires. “His company did a lot of work in the downtown Charleston area. That was his career,” he said.

Andy Savage, another attorney for Boone, said he had been told “there is likely going to be one more charge but we have not been told anything further.”

As far as the permits are concerned, “Boone and his father were quite busy with jobs on the peninsula, so on the surface it does not appear to be anything of serious concern to us. The evidence we have been provided to date is based on informants with a long history of involvement in the criminal justice system.”

Savage added that he is “always quite wary in a high-profile case where there appears to be a lot of public and political pressure to solve a case that a convenient target is declared the perpetrator.”

In addition to the 48 Montagu St. fire, Boone has been charged with third-degree arson in two fires in Hollywood and one charge of solicitation to commit arson. He was being held in the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center.

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