FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – An arrest warrant has been issued for a 40-year-old woman accused of starting a fire at her boyfriend's home on Warley Street early Friday morning that spread and displaced two families, officials confirm.
Officers responding to a domestic dispute call found the house burning when they got there. Florence police say they are looking for Treaver Denise Johnson in connection to the fire.
They believe Johnson got into a fight with her boyfriend who lives in the duplex house on Warley Street. According to Major Carlos Raines with the Florence Police Department, the tenant kicked Johnson out of the building, but she didn't leave.
She allegedly broke the window to his apartment and set a couch on fire that was sitting outside on the front porch. Police say the curtains inside of the broken window caught fire from the flames on the couch, and quickly spread throughout the duplex.
Johnson's boyfriend saw the flames and immediately ran to wake up the family living in the other section of the house. Everyone was able to get out safely, with no injuries. It is a silver lining, neighbors say, considering how fast the fire spread.
"We've lost income, lost a house, and now the families are displaced. They're going to have to find a place to live, I've lost good tenants, but at least nobody got hurt," says Donna Crockett, the owner of the rental property.
Donna Crockett owns the house that was destroyed in the fire. She was woken up in the middle of the night by a phone call warning her of the fire.
"Panic, panic. The tenant that lived on the left side had three children. I didn't want the kids to get hurt, for anyone to get hurt," says Crockett.
She says she felt like she was still dreaming as she stood in the street, watching her building burn.
"It was….bone chilling, just bone chilling," recalls Crockett.
Edward Love got a similar call. The fire damaged his building next door.
"My first thought when I got the call was that we just opened this firm in August. I got here as quick as I could….it just seemed like it wouldn't go away. By time I got here it was maintained, but there were hot spots that seemed like they just couldn't put out," says Edward Love.
Neighbors say they are counting their blessings because of how bad the fire could have been.
"Everyone got out, all the tenants got out safe. Buildings can be replaced, human lives cannot," says Crockett.
"My concern now is with the folks who lived in the residence. They're the ones dealing with the biggest headache, but luckily everyone is safe," agrees Love.
Florence police say a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Treaver Denise Johnson on arson charges and nine counts of attempted murder. Those murder charges stem from the fact that nine people, including three children, were inside when she allegedly lit the fire.
Police are still searching for Johnson and ask anyone with information on her location to call Florence City Police or Crimestoppers of the Pee Dee at 1-888-CRIME-SC.