Volunteer firefighter, fellow resident charged with arson in house fire

Michael Perchick Image
Friday, May 18, 2018
Volunteer firefighter charged with setting fires
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Deputies say Tommy Gilbert Junior is charged with setting three fires.

HARNETT COUNTY, NC (WTVD) -- A Boone Trail Volunteer firefighter has been charged with arson, and faces three misdemeanors for separate fires set in the woods.

Patrick Clayton and Tommy Gilbert

Harnett County Sheriff deputies said 25-year-old Tommy Ray Gilbert Jr. has been a volunteer firefighter for two-and-a-half months.

Gilbert, alongside 29-year-old Patrick Clayton, is suspected of setting an abandoned home in the 4100 block of Spring Hill Church Road in Lillington on fire around 2 a.m. on April 25.

"I kept hearing a beeping sound, like somebody backing up. What in the world it's 2:30 in the morning. What in the world is that? I opened the door and looked out the door and there were three fire trucks. And the flames just flying," explained Donald Turner, who lives near the scene.

Deputies said Gilbert responded as a firefighter to all four fires he's accused of setting.

Both Gilbert and Clayton face second-degree arson and felony conspiracy to commit arson charges.

Authorities are investigating three additional wood fires and said that there could be more charges pending the findings of their investigation.

Gilbert and Clayton remain in the Harnett County Detention Center on an $80,000 secured bond.

No injuries have been reported in any of the cases.