A Columbia man was charged with setting fire to his girlfriend’s house early Sunday, causing an estimated $70,000 worth of damage, in what authorities say was a domestic dispute that turned destructive.
James L. Jackson, 34, was arrested at the scene in the 6400 block of Clover Court, near the northeast edge of Columbia. He was charged with first-degree arson, first-degree property damage and second-degree domestic assault.
Jackson was in Boone County Jail as of Sunday afternoon. Bail was set at $259,000.
Sgt. Mike Perkins of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department said in a release that Jackson assaulted his girlfriend, Estelle Gamblin, and threatened to burn down her home with her inside. Perkins said Jackson then set fire to items in the home and prevented Gamblin from putting out the fire.
But the home’s security system contacted Boone County firefighters at 12:22 a.m. Gamblin herself called 911 from her neighbors’ house shortly thereafter. She was not injured in the fire.
Capt. Gale Blomenkamp of the Boone County Fire ProtectionDistrict said seven trucks and 20 firefighters came to the house. He said firefighters found the blaze near the front door and the living room of the home and extinguished it in 10 minutes.
“It was pretty bad, but it could have been a lot worse had we not been called earlier or been late in responding,” Blomenkamp said. “Had we not been able to contain the blaze, it could have quickly spread into the attic space and been much tougher to contain.”
He said the living room, family room and outside of the house suffered fire damage, and there was extensive smoke and heat damage to the rest of the home. Gamblin was not injured in the fire.
Blomenkamp said he could not comment on how the blaze was ignited or where exactly, since the investigation is ongoing.