Woman Arrested For Arson In East Chattanooga Fire; Firefighters Contend With Pit Bull

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Most of the fire is out at 1850 Newell Ave. as firefighters begin work to put out hot spots
Most of the fire is out at 1850 Newell Ave. as firefighters begin work to put out hot spots
- photo by Bruce Garner

Chattanooga fire investigators arrested a woman Thursday afternoon in connection with the morning house fire at 1850 Newell Ave. After examining the burn patterns in the house and interviewing several people, Lt. Henry McElvain with the Fire Investigation Division suspected that the fire had been deliberately set.  Lt. McElvain said he was sure after interviewing Melissa Freeman, 36, who has a mortgage on the house and lived there with her two daughters, ages 14 and 18. Her daughters were reportedly away at school at the time of the fire. 

Though Ms. Freeman denied starting the fire, Lt. McElvain said there was plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise, so he charged her with arson. She was later transported by Chattanooga Police to the Hamilton County Jail for booking.  

Fellow fire investigator Lt. Andrew Waters assisted with the investigation and arrest. The dollar loss to the house and contents was estimated at around $40,000. 

Lt. McElvain said the pit bull that was taken away by McKamey Animal Center actually threatened the firefighters when they arrived to extinguish the fire. As they entered the fenced-in yard, the unrestrained pit bull lunged at some of the firefighters, trying to bite them. Chattanooga police officers arrived on the scene to assist, cornering the dog until McKamey Animal Center personnel arrived to subdue it and take it away.

Thursday morning a passerby called 911 Communications, saying flames were shooting through the windows and that someone might still be inside.

Four fire companies responded, with Engine 4 arriving on the scene first. Captain Carlos Hampton said smoke and flames were coming out of several windows in the one-story house. The doors were locked, so firefighters had to force their way inside. Captain Hampton said the firefighters searched the house three times, but did not find anyone inside. The firefighters then worked to extinguish the flames and got the fire under control in roughly 20 minutes. No one was injured.

Click here for video.


Senior Firefighter Eric Roddy (at top holding axe) and firefighter Bradley Britt (taking chainsaw from firefighter below) cut a hole in the roof to ventilate the attic and allow better access to extinguish hot spots
Senior Firefighter Eric Roddy (at top holding axe) and firefighter Bradley Britt (taking chainsaw from firefighter below) cut a hole in the roof to ventilate the attic and allow better access to extinguish hot spots
- Photo2 by Bruce Garner

Alexander Says Senate-Passed Bill Will Help Fight Zika, Keep Government, National Parks Open

Senator Lamar Alexander on Wednesday voted for legislation that will provide $1.1 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus, keep government and national parks open and fund Pell grants for college students. The bill will keep the government open through  Dec. 9 . Senator Alexander said, “Senate Democrats deserve no praise today for finally relenting and allowing ... (click for more)

Uses For Discarded Glass To Be One Of Focuses Of Green/Spaces City Recycling Grant

Finding possible uses for discarded glass will be one of the focuses for Green/Spaces under a $40,000 grant from the city related to recycling. Justin Holland, city public works director, said glass is "the most challenging" aspect in recycling at this time due to the lack of markets for recycled glass. Green/Spaces is "to launch an expansive educational marketing campaign ... (click for more)

Jimmy Templeton Will Be Missed At The City Yards

If only we had known about the Chattanooga City Council's planned retirement send off for Jimmy Templeton of Public Works, the room would have been filled to overflowing with his friends and admirers - including me.   I have had the honor of knowing and working with Jimmy since the 1970's (and also knew his father "Big Jim").  Jimmy was a strong right hand for whoever ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our 2.0 Embarrassment

Let’s pretend you are coming to a new and exciting world. You are on the jolly good ship “Mayflower” when some Miles Standish-type of a guy (he was the Pilgrim’s first cop) calls you into is presence and says, “Within two hours we are expected to stand on Plymouth Rock. Please come up with ten primary goals we should have in our public schools.” I believe you could do it within ... (click for more)

Smart Running: Vradenburgh, Boyd Win Again

There’s a lesson to be learned for those young folks who choose cross country as their sport in the fall:  It’s impossible to win a race in the first mile, but you can surely lose one in that same space. As anyone with much running experience can verify, the fastest person doesn’t always win.  Running smart and using a tactical approach with planned pacing often produces ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Wins 7-AA After Beating Notre Dame

The Signal Mountain Lady Eagles took care of business at home Tuesday night as they swept visiting Notre Dame by scores of 25-15, 25-19 and 25-19 to claim first place in District 7-AA with a 10-0 district mark and 30-8 overall. Audrie Johnson had 11 kills while Kate Barry added 17 digs and 11 assists.  Nicole Terfloth finished with 18 digs and three aces for the winners ... (click for more)