Crime & Courts

Fire that destroyed 4 Bamberg buildings was intentionally set with a candle, agents say

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The fire that destroyed several downtown buildings in Bamberg earlier this month was intentionally set, state agents said in announcing an arrest Tuesday.

Randy Lee Bloom, 61, of Bamberg, was charged with second-degree arson, according to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division.

Bloom is accused of using a candle to set the fire that ripped through several downtown Bamberg buildings on March 5, according to an arrest warrant.

Investigators determined that the fire was intentionally set by an open flame coming into contact with combustible materials, according to the warrant. Bloom was seen on surveillance video exiting the back door of the first building to catch fire and “quickly walking away.”

Just over an hour later, the fire was reported by a passing motorist, agents say.

Bloom admitted to lighting a candle, which caused other nearby materials to ignite, the warrant states. He told agents he watched the fire and took no steps to extinguish it or call 911.

Second-degree arson carries a minimum of three years in prison and a maximum of 25 years, under South Carolina law.

Columbia Fire Department PIO Mike DeSumma walks through the firefighting training facility in Millwood where they simulate a burning building.

Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.