Man charged with setting vacant Piedmont building ablaze

Police charged a Piedmont man last week after he allegedly set fire to a vacant building in the city in March.

Piedmont police charged David Blake Brittain, 43, on May 7 with second-degree arson.

Piedmont police Chief Freddie Norton said Brittain was riding a bicycle along U.S. 278 around 9:30 p.m. when he stopped at a vacant building in the 600 block, previously known as the Smokehouse restaurant, and set it on fire.

“He basically was going down the road and decided he wanted to set it on fire,” Norton said.

Norton said first responders arrived quickly and firefighters put out the blaze, leaving the building with “minimal damage.” He said the fire had burned a hole in the siding and roof on one corner of the building.

“It wasn’t a total loss,” Norton said.

Norton said police found Brittain in the area a few hours later and asked him about the fire, which he denied any involvement in.

According to Norton, a witness told police a man came into the business he owned nearby and said “There’s about to be another Smokehouse,” about 30 minutes before the building caught fire.

Norton said police looked at security footage from places near the burned building and used that to determine Brittain was responsible.

Brittain was booked into the Calhoun County Jail with bond set at $15,000. On Friday, he was not listed as an inmate in the jail’s online roster. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 15.

Second-degree arson is a Class B felony, punishable by up to a two-decade prison sentence and a maximum fine of $30,000.