Man accused of setting fire to St. Marys building

Building formerly known as TNT Lanes bowling alley in St. Marys

By Francine Frazier - Senior web editor
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St. Marys Police Department booking photo of James Herbert Butler

ST. MARYS, Ga. - Police have made an arrest in a suspicious fire Tuesday morning at an abandoned bowling alley in St. Marys.

James Herbert Butler, 20, was arrested for two counts of second degree arson -- one related to the bowling alley incident and one in connection with an unrelated incident.

Around midnight, firefighters were called to an abandoned building, formerly known as TNT Lanes bowling alley, located at 2210 Highway 40, in reference to a fire.

When fire crews arrived, flames were coming from the building.

Several fire crews assisted with battling the fire, including the St. Marys Fire Department and the Camden County Fire Rescue. The fire was put out by 2:50 a.m., and no injuries were reported.

The 17,000-square-foot building was listed for sale for $250,000.

Investigators recorded positive tests for accelerant at the bowling alley and determined the fire was intentionally set.

Detectives identified Butler (pictured), a St. Marys resident, as a suspect in the criminal investigation after a witness came forward.

According to the St. Marys Police Department, detectives found Butler at his home, and he agreed to speak with law enforcement at the police department.

During the interview, Butler admitted to being involved in setting the fire at the bowling alley, police said.

Police said Butler also admitted to being involved in another fire on North Osborne Street that investigators had suspected was intentionally set. That fire was at a fire watch tower at the abandoned Durango Paper Mill.

Butler was transported to the Camden County Sheriff's Office Safety Complex in Woodbine to await a pre-trial bond hearing.

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