Knoxville Police Chief Dan Losada tells KNIA KRLS News that two arrests have been made in connection with fires in Knoxville Monday night. Marion County Sheriff Jason Sandholt says at approximately 10 minutes to 7 last night the Sheriff’s Office, Knoxville Police Department and Knoxville Fire and Rescue responded to a fire at Knoxville’s Walmart. The fire was contained, and Walmart personnel are taking inventory of smoke related damages today. After a review of security footage, a joint investigation between Knoxville Police and the Sheriff’s Department led authorities to two separate homes in Knoxville, which resulted in the arrests of two 13 year old boys, who were then transported to the Eldora Juvenile Detention Center. Both are charged with arson first degree, a class B felony. During the Walmart investigation, Knoxville officers were called to another incident at Farm and Home, where damage was found, resulting in additional charges of arson second degree and criminal mischief. The damage at Farm and Home was not serious.
The fire remains under investigation by the Knoxville Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
Walmart Spokesperson Dianna Gee tells KNIA/KRLS News that they are cooperating with local authorities in the investigation, and that they would like to thank the Knoxville Police Department, Knoxville Fire and Rescue, and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for their help with the fire and the investigation. Gee says Walmart would also like to especially recognize the efforts of Walmart Associate Pat Gorman, who was able to put the fire out within four minutes with a fire extinguisher. Gee says the company is “proud of his efforts to extinguish the fire.” She adds that they are grateful no one was injured in the fire, and that losses were largely limited to smoke damage. Due to the nature of the materials used in the construction of the chairs, the heavy black smoke causes considerable damage. It is company policy that no damage estimates will be released.
A Walmart Disaster Response team arrived in Knoxville this morning to help with the cleanup and the store will likely be closed for several days. Gee says the company would like to apologize for any inconvenience caused to customers.