Storage building burned at Big Turtle Park in Oak Ridge. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)
OAK RIDGE, Tenn (WVLT) -- Firefighters in Oak Ridge say they're looking for what they believe are juvenile arsonists and are worried they may try to strike again. The fire chief in Oak Ridge says two separate fires have been set in the past 14 days in the city.
Connie Cruse, works next door to a vacant building that firefighters say was set on fire on Saturday. She says during the event, she was worried that it might spread, but is even more worried to find out it was intentionally set.
"I started smelling this smell and I thought maybe it was electrical and thought maybe it was the computer, and I looked and it wasn't the computer and I looked and the fire trucks started coming," said Cruse. "There was thick smoke, I mean black smoke."
Cruse says it took firefighters hours before they left the scene.
Oak Ridge Fire Chief, Darryl Kerley, says a week earlier, a storage building at Big Turtle Park was damaged during arson. Kerley says there about $6,000 in damage was done. The fire at the vacant building cause $60,000 damage.
"It is pretty dangerous for our firefighters to respond in the heat on Saturday to an unoccupied building," said Chief Kerley. "It's immediately adjacent to a nursing home and posed a big problem for us so it's extremely dangerous."
The chief says while he's not sure if the two cases are related, he does have reason to believe the two fires were caused by juveniles between the ages of 10 and 18. He says police have identified people of interest.
"There is some suspicion that there could be a group of folks, a group of young folks that maybe competing with each other to see who can do the most damage."
Between 2005 and 2009, 110 people in Tennessee were killed from children who started fires. The chief hopes to stop the arsonist before some is hurt or killed.
There is a $1500 reward offered for information that leads to an arrest of the person or persons responsible for the fires.