When the Greenwood Fire Department arrived at a First Street residence in the early morning of May 30, they faced a dramatic scene.
Flames up to 50 feet high shot through the roof, setting ablaze nearby oak trees and prompting the evacuation of neighbors until the fire could be doused.
On Friday, authorities said the fire was intentionally set by a Ninety Six woman who had done it before.
Sirria Lacha Baylor, 26, of 802 McKenzie Road, was charged with second-degree arson by Greenwood Police.
The fire happened just before 2 a.m., when police and firefighters arrived nearly simultaneously to the 20 First St. residence. As firefighters worked to contain the scene, police spoke with a man who said his girlfriend and two children lived in the house.
The man said he was unsure whether they were inside, and that his girlfriend was not answering his phone calls. He said minutes before police arrived, she knocked on his window and when he got outside, he saw the house in flames.
Meanwhile, a woman told police she believed the girlfriend started the fire and had done so about two weeks earlier, sitting on the front porch as a kitchen blaze grew, but was extinguished before any first responders were called.
Police said a woman matching the girlfriend’s description was seen a short time later on Edgefield Street near Epting Avenue, walking toward Self Regional Healthcare’s headquarters and pushing a stroller.
Stewart McDonald, the city fire department’s incident commander, found a gas can nozzle in the home’s front yard, and parts of the property smelled of an accelerant, according to a police incident report.
Self Regional security guards told police a woman matching the description of the girlfriend was inside a waiting room. The woman asked staff members for blankets and “settled down” on the floor, according to an incident report.
The woman said she had been at the hospital for 4 hours before police contacted her, but video surveillance indicated it had only been about 30 minutes.
The woman’s children were placed in protective custody.