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Great Falls firefighter charged with arson

CHESTER -- A Great Falls firefighter was being held Wednesday night at the Chester County Detention Center on allegations that he burned a desk inside the Great Falls Fire Department, and authorities want to talk to him about two other suspicious fires in the area.

State Law Enforcement Division agents charged 21-year-old David Dutton of 7 Farrow St. in Great Falls with third-degree arson Tuesday evening, authorities said. Great Falls Mayor H.C. "Speedy" Starnes said Wednesday night Dutton has been suspended without pay until the charge is resolved.

Dutton used the hand sanitizer Germ-X to burn a desk inside the bay area of the Great Falls Fire Department between Jan. 1 and Feb. 7, according to a SLED arrest warrant. The warrant does not say how the fire was set, and SLED spokeswoman Bobbi Schlatterer said she could not comment beyond what was stated in the warrant.

But Dutton has been named a person of interest by the Chester County Sheriff's Office in suspicious October fires that destroyed two vacant homes on Richburg Road in Great Falls, said Maj. James McNeil of the Sheriff's Office.

McNeil said Dutton is not considered a suspect because authorities have not accused him of any crime, but they want to talk to him about the fires.

Chester County Sheriff Robby Benson declined to say why authorities think Dutton might know something about those fires, citing the ongoing investigation.

The fires that Chester County authorities want to talk to Dutton about happened Oct. 3.

That same month, SLED investigated another suspicious fire at a vacant home in the Mountain Gap Road area, authorities said. And sheriff's detectives looked into another suspicious fire Tuesday morning at a vacant home off Arrow Wood Road near the Fairfield County line.

Investigators have not named Dutton a person of interest in those cases.

Dutton was hired as a full-time firefighter in October. Acting Great Falls Fire Chief T.J. Martin could not be reached for comment.

Dutton has no prior criminal history in South Carolina, SLED records show. He was being held at the detention center on a $10,000 bond.

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