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

Man Shot In Knee On W. 38th Street; Won't Cooperate With Police

A man was shot in the knee on West 38th Street on Monday afternoon. Police said he would not cooperate with the investigation. At approximately 4:59 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to 262 West 38 th for a person shot.  Officers located a 22-year-old black male suffering from a single gunshot wound to his knee.  The victim was transported to a local hospital ... (click for more)

2 Brothers Arrested For Armed Robbery At Dollar Store

Two brothers have been arrested for the armed robbery of the Dollar Store on 23rd Street that took place on July 3.  According to police, Dominique and Trevor Casteel came into the store with pistols, demanding money. The two cashiers working handed them the tills from the cash register, and then they said the men put the money in a drawstring bag and fled.  Bandanas ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)

Prep Football Practice Starts Today

Coaches barking instructions, players blocking and tackling, quarterbacks and receivers working on timing routes and error-free handoffs to fleet-footed running backs.   In the greater Chattanooga area and throughout the state it can mean just one thing. It’s time for Prep Football 2014.   Today is the first official day ... (click for more)

NPSL National Championship To Be Played At Red Bulls Arena

The NPSL announced on Monday that the national championship match between Chattanooga FC and the Red Bulls U23 will be played on Saturday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.  The match will be played following an MLS match between New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution.   Local fans took to social media to appeal for the game to be played in Chattanooga. ... (click for more)