Former security guard pleads guilty to arson charges

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - Bryan Yeager, a former security guard and firefighter charged in a series of Palmetto Bluff fires, pleaded no contest to all five charges on Monday afternoon.

The guilty plea came one day before Yeager's trial was to begin.

Judge Perry M. Buckner sentenced Yeager, 24, to five years in prison for two counts of third-degree arson, two counts of willful burning of another person's land and one count of attempted arson.

Deputy solicitor Angela McCall-Tanner was prepared to begin the trial on Tuesday morning before Yeager decided not to contest the charges.

Yeager, who worked as a Palmetto Bluff security guard and as a firefighter for the St. Helena-Lady's Island Fire District at the time of the fires, started five fires between January 2007 and January 2008, destroying a home that was under construction and a dump truck.

Total losses caused by the fires were more than $1.4 million.

In a statement made to Bluffton Police detectives, Yeager confessed to starting the fires. GPS coordinates from his security vehicle placed him at the scene of all five fires, according to a news release.

Timeline of the fires:

  • Jan. 20, 2007- Construction Entrance of Palmetto Bluff Plantation, dump truck set on fire (damage: $40,000)
  • Nov. 25, 2007- May River Golf Course Comfort Station, Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton (damage: $300)
  • Dec. 16, 2007- Wooded Area behind Calder Park in May River Forest, Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton
  • Jan. 10, 2008- Wooded Area at Headwaters Lot #9, Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton
  • Jan. 12, 2008- Structure at 11 Headwaters Road, Lot 1, Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton (home was 80 percent complete, damage: $1.4 million)

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