Nearly two years ago, a Coffee County man pled guilty to setting a fire that destroyed several Enterprise businesses.
Now, because of a plea bargain agreement, the six counts against 26-year-old Daniel Belcher have been rolled into a second-degree arson conviction.
Belcher was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $600,000 in fines.
The April 2001 fire happened in a strip mall on Glover Avenue. The entire neighborhood was evacuated.
Officials were concerned about possible hazardous fumes from a pool supply company involved in the fire.
Authorities say Belcher has a long history of mental problems.
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- Arson is the second leading cause of death by fire in the United States, exceeded only by losses due to smoking.
- Arson is the leading cause of property damage due to fires.
- One of every four fires that occur in the U.S. each year, about a half million, are arson.
- Each year, more than 90 percent of all civilian deaths in incendiary and suspicious structure fires occur in residential properties.
- Direct property damage from arson totals more than $3 billion in a typical year. One out of every four dollars lost to fire is the result of arson.
- Only 16 percent of arson offenses lead to arrest, and only two percent of those arrested are convicted.
- Preliminary results of a new study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggest that between one-fifth to one-fourth of reported arson cases in major American cities are drug-related.
- Arson is the leading cause of fire in houses of worship, accounting for 25 percent of church and related property fires.
- 53 percent of all arsons are set by youths under age 18.
Source: www.usfa.fema.gov contributed to this report