Man lit fire out of anger, police say

:A 29-year-old facing charges in a fire that damaged an America Street apartment home last month is not thought to be involved in the rash of arson fires in downtown Charleston, police officials said today. Rhashalm Antonio Crowell of Spruill Avenue in North Charleston faces a charge of third-degree arson.

A 29-year-old man accused of lighting a small fire last month at a downtown Charleston apartment was angry at a woman who lived there, police officials said Monday.

Rhashalm Antonio Crowell of Spruill Avenue in North Charleston was arrested Friday in connection with the June 20 blaze at 37A America St. He faces a count of third-degree arson.

Considering the circumstances of the case, officials said the fire is not thought to be connected with the 85 suspicious blazes since 2002 in downtown areas near the Crosstown expressway. Similarly, many of those fires started in the early morning hours on porches of apartment homes.

The Charleston Police Department responded to the America Street apartment house around 1:20 a.m., after a resident smelled smoke and saw a glow.

When they arrived, officers saw the porch and front door to a second-floor apartment on fire, according to an incident report. Five family members were standing on the balcony.

A police sergeant climbed a flight of stairs and used an extinguisher to snuff the blaze before firefighters arrived. Flames did not reach the home’s interior, and no one was injured.

Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh of the Charleston Fire Department said burned paper on the porch indicated that the fire was arson.

Investigators later determined that Crowell had “threatened to harm a woman who was living in the apartment,” according to a police statement.

Crowell has a criminal history that includes a felony conviction for second-degree burglary in August, for which he received a year of probation, according to the State Law Enforcement Division. He also has misdemeanor convictions in 2003 for malicious injury to personal property, 2005 for breach of trust and 2008 for resisting arrest.

He remains jailed in lieu of $20,000 bail.

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Andrew Knapp is editor of the quick response team, which covers crime, courts and breaking news. He previously worked as a reporter and copy editor at Florida Today, Newsday and Bangor (Maine) Daily News. He enjoys golf, weather and fatherhood.