Arsonist pleads guilty; sentenced to 255 years

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DORCHESTER COUNTY — The Office of the State’s Attorney for Dorchester County and the Office of the State Fire Marshal announce that Pernell Clanton, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of 1 Degree Arson and nine counts of 1st Degree Assault for setting fire to 507 Race St., Cambridge, on Dec. 16, 2012.

On Sept. 22, 2016, the Honorable Brett W. Wilson sentenced Clanton to 255 years, suspend all but 40 years active, upon release Clanton will be on five years of supervised probation. Clanton will have to serve half of his sentence before being eligible for parole. As conditions of probation, Clanton will have no contact with the victims, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and take all medications as prescribed.

The 10:46 p.m. four-alarm blaze took nearly 100 firefighters from approximately 13 fire companies two hours to bring under control.
Twenty-two occupants were inside the apartment building at the time of the fire and were transported to area hospitals and treated for non-life threatening injuries including smoke inhalation and injuries sustained from jumping from second and third floor windows. Two firefighters were treated for stress related injuries at Dorchester General Hospital and released.

The structure contained a thrift store on the first floor with four apartments on the 2nd floor and four apartments on the 3rd floor. Residents of the building were alerted of the fire by working smoke alarms located inside the structure. The structure was considered to be a total loss with damages estimated at $850,000.

Dorchester County State’s Attorney William H. Jones commended the Rescue Fire Company, the Cambridge Police Department, all responding and assisting fire/EMS and police departments, the investigators with the Office of the State Fire Marshal for their work in the investigation and prosecution of this case and Jamie Dykes who prosecuted the case.

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