LUMBERTON — A South Carolina resident was arrested on Saturday and charged with a fire that caused more than $65,000 worth of damage to a local storage facility, destroying 28 out of 32 units.
Johnthan Brooks Pressley, 31, of Hemingway, S.C., was arrested after investigators “followed a trail of stolen property” to an apartment complex, according to a statement from the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office. He is accused of arson, first-degree trespassing, injury to real property and injury to personal property in the fire at Noble Storage, which is located at 1600 Starlite Drive. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a second South Carolina man.
According to statement from the Sheriff’s Office, damage estimates are expected to grow as property that was being stored is identified and valued.
“The building is so burnt that they will have to tear down the entire building,” said sheriff’s Lt. Brian Duckworth, an arson investigator. “It’s unknown at this time if any accelerant was used. We should know in the next few days.”
Les Noble, 52, the owner of the business, said repair work should begin within 45 days.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to clean up what’s left,” Noble said. “It’s a sick feeling to see the extent of the damage and what a fire can do. It completely destroyed everything.”
Lumberton and Raft Swamp firefighters took more than two hours to extinguish the blaze, which was reported at 5 a.m. on Saturday. Duckworth said firefighters had to cut into each individual container while trying to put out the fire.
“It was the first time I’ve had to deal with something like this,” Noble said. “The professionalism was beyond my expectations. Brian Duckworth jumped on it and worked all day long. I couldn’t believe their dedication. The cooperation between the departments was amazing and I am very pleased, amazed and satisfied with their work during such a horrible incident.”
According to the statement, Pressley was arrested after police and sheriff’s deputies followed scattered items to the apartment complex, where they found stolen items in an apartment and the trunk of an open vehicle. The statement did not identify the apartment complex or the make of the vehicle.
The statement said a warrant has also been issued for Jeremiah Jermaine Weaver, 26, of Hemingway, S.C., but did not identify the charges.
“There are additional people of interest for aiding and abetting,” Duckworth said. “We’re still trying to obtain video from the housing and storage complexes.”
Damages to the storage building were estimated at $65,000, with $500 damage done to a fence and $299 to a camera system. Duckworth said investigators are contacting people who owned property that was destroyed to include in their damage estimate.
“They’re going to have to start bringing lists of everything in the containers,” Duckworth said. “That will allow us to put a value and list of items either stolen or burnt together so the proper paperwork can be filed. We recovered a lot of items but people need to come forward and identify what is theirs and what is damaged or destroyed.”
Noble also operates 525 storage units at 1402 Linkhaw Road.