Fire and police investigators say they now know the identity of the man who allegedly started a fire Saturday at the Marriott Residence Inn at 215 Chestnut St.
Captain James Whitmire with the Fire Investigation Division said the suspect's name is Bairo G. Gomez, 20, who is currently being held at the county jail.
Gomez is accused of putting a toaster in a microwave and starting the microwave with the intention of starting a fire. Captain Whitmire said Gomez is also believed responsible for vandalizing the Residence Inn room before leaving.
The resulting fire from the microwave set off the motel's alarm system, and also activated the sprinkler system.
The fire was out when firefighters arrived, but the fourth floor was filled with smoke, so all rooms on that floor were evacuated. The floors below were also evacuated as a precaution.
No injuries were reported. The loss was estimated at around $45,000.
While firefighters were ventilating the fourth floor and Captain Whitmire was examining the burn patterns in the room, Chattanooga police officers found Gomez in the vicinity of a grass fire on Highway 27. The officers connected Gomez with the fire after finding a card entry key for Room 406 at the Residence Inn in his pocket. Room 406 is where the fire occurred.
The officers transported Gomez to the Residence Inn, and, after some questioning, Captain Whitmire charged Gomez with aggravated arson, vandalism and reckless endangerment.
Captain Whitmire said additional charges may be added as the investigation continues.
Chattanooga Police Patrol Officers David Franklin and Joe Kerns provided valuable assistance with the investigation, it was stated.
Gomez is from 227 Lake Forest Dr., LaVergne, Tn.