Fire at a Beaufort apartment complex

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - Police are calling a fire at an apartment complex arson. It was a busy Monday morning as investigators tried to find out who started a fire at the office building at Parkview Apartments.

"The maintenance man came in this morning and noticed there was smoke coming from the mail slot," said Beaufort Police Investigator George Erdel. "Apparently someone had poured some type of accelerant down the mail slot and ignited it."

While it caused quite a bit of smoke damage inside, the Apartment Complex's Community Manager Carolyn Allen is grateful it wasn't worse.

"We are thankful we weren't here, we are happy that there was minimal amount of damage," said  Allen. "We did not lose any files."

Although Allen didn't anticipate having to deal with this fire this morning, she wasn't surprised someone tried to cause damage here.

"Not really because we've been doing a lot of clean up," said Allen. "We've moved out some drug dealers  and we have zero tolerance for loitering around here so I'm not surprised a little bit of retaliation."

"Obviously, when a manager takes a hard line, there might be some folks that don't necessarily care for it but I think the bulk of the folks are not going to put up with this kind of thing," said Erdel.

Over the past several months, Allen has teamed up with Beaufort Police to turn the apartment complex around.

"We have a no loitering police here," said Allen. "It's okay if you're coming to visit someone but if you're not visiting someone you can't loiter."

Police are doing their part, patrolling the area and trying to keep it safe.

"The call volume has dropped a nd things have gotten better as certain folks have gotten evicted," said Erdel.

Many residents like Linda Smith say they have noticed a difference.

"Before it was drug infested but now it is cleaned up," said Smith. "She really cleaned it up."

"It's cleaner around here," said Keanta Dunham. "It feels more like home, more of a community."

While some aren't in favor of these new rules, many we talked to say the new measures are improving their quality of life.

"It feels better now that things are cleaned up, no drugs, my kids can come outside and play," said Steven Frasier.

As part of the effort, Allen says plans are in the works to turn a laundry facility into a community building to give children a place to come,play and get help with homework. She says the St. Helena Episcopal Church is helping with the effort.

Investigators are still trying to find out who started the fire. If you have any information, please call Beaufort Police Department at 843.470.3003.

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