Fire official: Cataula teen accepts responsibility for grass fire

The Cataula teen police say ignited a Sunday morning fire on Double Churches Road appeared in Recorder's Court Monday.

Jake McTier, 19, pleaded not guilty to first-degree arson during the 8 a.m. hearing. He was ordered to return inside of the Muscogee County Jail under a $10,000 bond.

Judge Michael Cielinski bounded the case over to Superior Court.

The Columbus Police Department's arrest report states that the intoxicated suspect set fire to the apartment building wall on the 2200 block of Double Churches Road around 3:45 a.m., but Columbus Fire & EMS' Monica Carstarphen said he started a grass fire that started around the structure and spread to the building.

Carstarphen learned that a witness spotted the smoke coming from the grass fire and ran to it. By then, the flames had already traveled 3 to 4 feet up the side of the apartment building and caused about $1,500 to $2,000 worth of damage, she said.

Standing outside of the burning apartment at the time, McTier allegedly kept asking the witness why he was extinguishing the flames and provided no assistance, according to Carstarphen's testimony.

The suspect reportedly admitted that he owned the cigarette lighter officials found at the scene.

"At the time of my questioning, he had black smut on his red shirt," Carstarphen said about McTier. "His hands were black smutted, and he had footprints that lead from the front entrance of his apartment all the way to his bedroom."

McTier reportedly apologized to first responders on the scene and took responsibility for the incident.

"He apologized numerous times for us being out there and getting us up," Carstarphen said. "He also explained to the officer who brought him to the county jail that he did set it on fire."