Man charged after child sets vehicle on fire with torch outside Big Lots in Rock Hill, police say

ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Rock Hill Police Department has arrested a man after a vehicle caught on fire with a child still inside.

On Nov. 24, shortly before 12:30 p.m., police said they were dispatched to the Big Lots on Cherry Road for a car fire with a child inside the vehicle.

At the scene, police found a silver Chevy Trailblazer illegally parked in the fire lane in front of the Big Lots. The vehicle was being extinguished by the Rock Hill Fire Department, according to police.

Police said a child and two dogs had been taken out of the vehicle by witnesses. After an evaluation, EMS determined that the child was not injured. However, one of the dogs had suffered a minor burn, according to police.

When they located the driver of the vehicle, he told police that he left the child and dogs inside while he went into the store.

The driver, later identified as 30-year-old Christopher Lampkin, said when he heard that the vehicle was on fire, he ran outside to check on it. He said by the time he got outside, the child and dogs were already removed from the vehicle, according to police.

Channel 9 reporter Tina Terry spoke with a retired firefighter, who said his instincts kicked in the moment he saw the car on fire.

Ray Hill told Channel 9 that he and his wife were in town visiting their daughter for Thanksgiving. “We had stopped by the Big Lots just to pick up a few last-minute items,” Hill said.

Hill said that he smelled something burning as he left the store and immediately noticed a car full of smoke with flames in the back seat.

“Myself and another lady ran toward the car and opened the doors. I opened the driver-side door and she opened the rear driver-side door. And she found a child in the back seat and I found two dogs in front. I went into the big lots and got a fire extinguisher off the wall and went back out and essentially extinguished the fire,” Hill told Channel 9.

Hill said things could have ended differently if he hadn’t intervened.

“I really don’t want to think about that, because I’m afraid it would have been a bad situation for that child. I believe that child would have been seriously injured or killed and I’m sure that dogs would have probably met the same demise,” Hill said.

Police said they believed the fire was started by a push-button active torch that was left accessible in the vehicle.

Lampkin was arrested and has been charged with unlawful conduct toward a child, parking an unattended vehicle, parking in a marked fired lane and possession of marijuana, according to the Rock Hill Police Department.

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