Arson suspected in a rash of late night, overnight fires

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-The Knoxville Fire Department is investigating a series of suspicious fires. Three abandoned houses and two dumpsters were set on fire, all within a few miles of one another in South Knox County and South Knoxville. Investigators believe they were all intentionally set. One woman's home became collateral damage of the possible arson spree, after one of the fires destroyed it.

"She's lost everything. Everything. And it's sad," said a neighbor who didn't wish to be identified. "I don't know anyone who would want to do any harm to anyone here."

But Saturday the area was ablaze; five fires in all. Knoxville Fire Department Captain Mark Wilbanks said, "all of those fires, along with a couple of dumpster fires, we believe, are connected in some way."

An abandoned house on Edington Road was the first call, and the start of a busy night for firefighters. Wilbanks said, they worked "through about 5am [Sunday] morning, actually closer to 7am we were working on all these scenes. Almost non-stop."

Abandoned homes are easy targets for arsonists. "Sometimes people do this just for the thrill of setting a fire," Wilbanks said.

But one person's thrill can become another's panic. He said, "it's dangerous for the people who live next door to these homes, because they're asleep in the homes, the fire could jump next door to their home as well."

And that's exactly what investigators say happened on Edington Road. The fire started in the abandoned home and quickly spread to the house next door, which we're told, is owned by an elderly, disabled woman with no insurance. Her neighbor said, "somebody that's worked all their lives, paid for everything, and now she's lost everything." And she says she wants justice. "I think whoever is doing it needs to be caught and I think they need to go to jail and learn a lesson."

No one was hurt in any of the fires. KFD tells us they're looking for two suspects and have issued a $1,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest. If you have a tip call (865)-637-1386.


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