A Columbia firefighter who was declared a person of interest in a fatal apartment fire was “cleared of any criminal wrongdoing” Tuesday and re-instated to his job, Columbia city officials announced.
The unnamed firefighter was interviewed by Columbia police and State Law Enforcement Division investigators “during a lengthy interview process over the past two days,” police chief Skip Holbrook said in a news release late Tuesday.
“He has been fully cooperative with law enforcement and answered all questions related to the investigation. [...] he is not considered a person of interest or suspect in the case,” Holbrook said.
A short time later, City Manager Teresa Wilson announced that the firefighter, who was suspended without pay from his job on Saturday, had been re-instated.
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Police identified the firefighter as a person of interest Saturday when they released images of him at the scene of a fatal Jan. 29 fire at Plantation Court Apartments in downtown’s Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhood. Several people contacted police and said the man was a firefighter with the Columbia Fire Department.
Police say the blaze that killed 80-year-old True Henderson was intentionally set. It came on the heels of several small arsons in the Rosewood area. So far there have been no arrests, and investigators are still trying to determine if any of the fires are related.