Man charged with arson after Lexington apartment fire

A Lexington man accused of setting an occupied apartment complex on fire Monday morning was found hours later, asleep on a lawn.

Arson investigators from the Lexington Division of Fire charged Anthony Benjamin Moore, 22, with first-degree arson and three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly setting a fire at 271 Kalmia Avenue.

He also was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of burglary tools and two counts of receiving stolen property for other crimes, police said.

The fire was reported about 8:50 a.m. at the complex, which is near the intersection of Rose and Maxwell Streets. Moore had lived there, but he was evicted last week, Lexington fire Battalion Chief Ed Davis said.

Police had been looking for Moore in connection with other crimes, including a property damage report taken last week, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.

On March 16, the day he was evicted for failing to pay rent, someone had gone into his apartment and damaged furniture, appliances and walls, she said.

He also was suspected in recent thefts in the area, leading to the charges of receiving stolen property, Roberts said.

"We do believe that he has been on a crime spree of sorts leading up to this," she said.

No one was injured in Monday's fire. Fourteen people lived in the building, and at least three were inside at the time, Davis said. Some were asleep.

Smoke detectors helped alert residents to the fire. They had evacuated by the time firefighters arrived, Battalion Chief Jeff Nance said.

One apartment was heavily damaged. Other apartments had filled with smoke and had to be ventilated before residents could return Monday.

Moore was found about two miles away, asleep in the grass on Preston Avenue, Davis said. An ambulance was sent to that area after someone spotted him lying there.

However, after he woke up, Moore told investigators he was not having medical problems. They took him in for questioning, then charged him.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader