Bryan Simpson of South Shore is charged with second-degree arson, a Class B felony, and also with tampering with physical evidence, a Class D felony, according to a report handed up Feb. 24 by the Greenup County Grand Jury.
Simpson’s bond was set at $100,000 cash or property, according to the indictment. Kentucky State Police were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on him late Tuesday afternoon, said Trooper First Class Elliott Gollihue, public affairs officer at the KSP’s Ashland Post 14.
The case was presented to the grand jury by Jason Greer, assistant to Boyd County Commonwealth’s Attorney David Justice.
Justice was named as a special prosecutor in the case after Commonwealth’s Attorney Clifford Duvall of Greenup disqualified himself. He said Simpson’s mother, Diane Simpson of South Shore, had at one time worked for him.
Simpson, “believing that an official proceeding was pending or may have been instituted, he concealed physical evidence which he believed was about to be produced or used in the officials proceeding with the intent to impair its verity or availability in the official proceeding,” the indictment charges.
The fire was discovered early Monday morning Dec. 27. The South Shore Volunteer Fire Department, located just two blocks away, was quickly on the scene and prevented the fire from spreading to other buildings, but the two-story portion of the building as well as a one-story portion were gutted by the fire.
South Shore asked for backup and volunteer fire departments from Maloneton, Fire Brick, Lloyd and Washington Township, Ohio responded.
Simpson operated a farm and feed store in the one-story portion of the building for the building’s owners, Bob and Ryan Sells of Ironton.
As the remains of the building cooled, Kentucky State Police Arson Investigator Rodney Carroll picked through the ruins two days after the fire and ruled then the fire had been intentionally set.
The building was a South Shore landmark, the second to be built in downtown. It was built in 1926 for S.M. Roberson from which operate his grocery and furniture business. It operated as that until his death in the early 1970s.
For days after the fire, local people with fond memories of the man and the store walked the streets around the smoldering bricks and twisted steel beams.
It was the second major fire in South Shore in two months. The city building was destroyed by fire the night of Oct. 27.
KSP arson investigators said that fire was caused by an electric control panel shorting out, probably because of lightning that hit the area that evening.