Boy, 9, Charged In Dollar General Store Arson

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
- photo by Brent McDonald (See video on Channel 9)

Chattanooga fire investigators have charged a nine-year-old boy with aggravated arson and reckless endangerment in connection with the fire he admitted starting at the Dollar General Store in Hixson on late Tuesday afternoon.

Lt. Anthony Moore with the Fire Investigation Division said the youth was taken to the Juvenile Detention Center on Tuesday night and was expected to go before a Juvenile Court judge this morning to face the charges.

The boy told firefighters that he was mad at his mother so he walked to the rear of the store and set rolls of bathroom tissue on fire. He said he used matches that were on display not far from where the bathroom tissue display was located. The boy said he watched the fire grow for a while, and then made his way out the front entrance.

The boy's mother turned her son over to the fire investigators when her son told her that he started the fire.

The fire destroyed the store at Hixson Pike and Highway 153.

Store Manager Tammy Laney was the first adult to discover the fire when she started smelling smoke. When she discovered the fire, she initially tried to put the flames out herself, but was unsuccessful. It was also becoming difficult for her to breathe. She then got everyone out of the store and called 911.

The Chattanooga Fire Department received the call at 5:45 p.m. and responded with six fire companies to 4852 Hixson Pike. At first, it appeared that the firefighters would be able to get the fire under control fairly quickly, but the fire got into the attic and was difficult to locate in the thick, black smoke. The firefighters made an interior attack and tried to use thermal imaging cameras to locate the fire. However, other firefighters noticed that the roof was beginning to sag, so the order was given to evacuate the building for the safety of the firefighters.

As the fire continued to spread, Battalion Chief Bob Dixon called for a second alarm response to bring in additional firefighters and equipment. The firefighters set up four aerials with master streams, along with several firefighters who used handheld hoselines, and they eventually got the blaze under control.

No injuries were reported.

The firefighters did manage to keep the fire from destroying an adjacent building, which was previously a grocery store but is now vacant.

The Dollar General Store and its contents will be considered a total loss. The store employed seven people.

Chattanooga Police, Hamilton County EMS and Chattanooga-Hamilton County Rescue also provided assistance on the scene.


View Dollar General Store In Hixson Burns in a larger map


Corker Welcomes Action On Adoption Of Congolese Children

Senator Bob Corker on Friday said he welcomed passage of S. Res. 502, a Senate resolution concerning the suspension of exit permit issuance by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents.  “I’ve had the opportunity to hear first-hand the stories of many Tennessee families who are stuck in ... (click for more)

Wamp Campaign Critical Of Fleischmann PAC Funds

The Weston Wamp campaign said Friday that incumbent Congressman Chuck Fleischmann raised $30,000 in two days from special interest political action committees (PACs) "to continue to fund his negative campaign. That pushes the incumbent’s campaign past the $550,000 mark in PAC money for the election cycle." The Wamp campaign said Rep. Fleischmann "also raised eight individual ... (click for more)

A Tennessee Transplant's Thoughts On Age And Politics - And Response

I have read several opinions favoring the job performance of Representative Fleischmann as well the apparent disdain that they have for his challenger and his age.  I must disclose that unfortunately, I am unable to cast a vote in the 3rd District Republican primary.  I will however always be a Chattanoogan.  As a result, I feel more engaged in East Tennessee politics ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Orchids And Onions

With record low temperatures being recorded around the South, I didn’t know what I’d find in my garden on the first day of August but – sure enough -- there is a profusion of orchids and onions. The start of college football will be later this month and, with the chilly mornings, fall practice is a far cry from what it will be when the sweltering heat comes back next week. Here’s ... (click for more)

Live Viewing Party Of The National Championship Offered At First Tennessee Pavilion

Chattanooga Football Club fans will get one more chance to gather and cheer on the team as it battles for the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) National Championship powered by Mitre.  On Saturday, from 7-11:30 p.m. at the First Tennessee Pavilion, Big River Brewing Company, Volkswagen Chattanooga, Memorial, Finley Stadium, and EPB Fiber Optics are hosting ... (click for more)

Larry Fleming: Phil Schmidt Made Life Better For Those That Knew Him

The sad news came Thursday morning in a phone call from Jill Bowling, the daughter of Phil Schmidt, longtime photographer at The Chattanooga Times – for years he served as chief of the department – had passed away minutes earlier at TriStar-Centennial Hospital in Nashville. Through Jill’s tears she said, “Daddy died this morning.” It was a phone call I didn’t want to get and ... (click for more)