A Martinez man has been arrested after confessing to police that he caused a fire today at a home on Old Evans Road, requiring firefighters to rescue his elderly neighbor.
Authorities charged Richard Kevin Blankenship, 21, of the 300 block of Old Evans Road with first-degree arson, Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris released in an e-mail.
Blankenship, who Morris described as a ward of the state, lived in foster care next door to the home, owned by Charles Davis, 73, that he set on fire.
Blankenship threw a Molotov cocktail under Davis' Lincoln Town Car, which was parked in the carport, Morris said.
When Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue arrived on scene at about 11:15 a.m., flames had spread to the one-story home's kitchen and attic, said Battalion Chief Danny Kuhlmann.
The fire was close to engulfing the entire home when firefighters found Davis conscious in his bedroom and took him outside, where he refused medical treatment, Kuhlmann said.
The blaze took firefighters about five minutes to get under control, he said. The vehicle was completely destroyed by fire and the home's interior was badly damaged.
The fire was reported by Davis' other neighbor, who was outside in her backyard and heard "popping' noises next door. Cyndi Vinson then saw flames coming from her neighbor's car and ran inside to call 911.
Vinson, who knewDavis lived alone, worried the fire could quickly spread both inside and outside the home, which is surrounded by thick brush and trees.
"I'm just glad he's okay," she said, while standing in her front yard watching firefighters work on the home.
The American Red Cross was alerted to assist, but Davis opted to call his brother, Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue Jeremy Wallen said.
Morris said Blankenship has lived at the house between six to eight weeks and has previously resided there several years ago.
Blankenship is at the Columbia County Detention Center, where jailers said his bond is set at $75,000.