Building Owner Charged In Downtown Kinston Fires

The owner of one of the buildings burned last weekend in downtown Kinston has been charged with setting the fires.

William Elliott, who police say owned the building which housed the fitness and boxing center is charged with one count of arson and four counts of burning a building. Two other buildings, including a lawyers office, burned in the July 14th fires.

Elliot, who lives in Jacksonville, was arrested Friday by city police, along with ATF and SBI agents.

The 49-year-old man is jailed on a $300,000 bond.

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The investigation continues after firefighters say three buildings in Kinston were damaged by an arsonist over the weekend.

Investigators are releasing few details right now. In the meantime, two business owners are trying to get back on their feet. One a gym and the other a law firm that's been there for over 20 years.

Bill Gerrans of Gerrans, Foster & Sergeant Law Firm showed us pictures of what his building used to look like.

On Monday plywood hid the damage from the street with a sign telling clients the business had been fire bombed. Gerrans says a witness told him they saw someone throw an object into the building then flames burst out the front. Firefighters would not comment on that.

The fire started around 1:00 Saturday morinng in the 100 block of East Gordon street in downtown Kinston, and all the offices were empty at the time except for "Get It In Fitness Boxing," where the owner was asleep in the back.

Gym Ike Ezeji says, "Before I went to bed, something kept telling me pray."

Ezeji says even though he also lives in the building, he didn't have a smoke detector. A friend who had heard about the fire called him to tell him to get out of the building. And when he did he saw the smoke coming from the second floor.

Ezeji says he is currently staying with one of his client's and has already started classes back up at the old Contentnea School while he looks for a new space. He did not have insurance.

The third building that was set on fire was vacant.


Kinston Assistant Fire Chief Don Crawford tells WITN officials have ruled the downtown Kinston fires that began early Saturday morning as arson.

Crawford says officials are still investigating the cause and motive for the fires.

Firefighters cleared the scene early Sunday morning after fighting the fires for more than 24 hours.

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Overnight fires involving several buildings in downtown Kinston are under investigation. Officials are calling the fires suspicious.

According to Assistant Fire Chief Don Crawford firefighters were first called to the scene on the 100 block of East Gordon Street around 1 a.m. Saturday. When they arrived three buildings were engulfed in flames.

Crawford says two of the buildings were heavily damaged and a third received substantial damage.

The buildings are not connected, which leads investigators to believe that there were three different fires.

Some areas in the buildings are vacant, but there were two occupied spaces including one that housed a law firm.

The SBI and Arson Investigation Unit are investigating.

Crawford says one firefighter had to be treated at the scene for heat exhaustion. No other injures have been reported.

Firefighters are expected to remain on scene overnight into Sunday to fight hotspots.

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