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, Corker Introduce Senate Resolution Honoring The Life And Achievements Of Pat Summitt

Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker on Tuesday introduced a resolution in the Senate honoring the life and achievements of legendary Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 64. Full text of the resolution is below: Whereas coaching was the great passion of Pat Summitt’s life and was an opportunity for her to work with student-athletes, help ... (click for more)

Legendary Lady Vol Basketball Coach Pat Summitt Dies At Age 64

Pat Summitt , legendary Lady Vol basketball coach, mentor and mother-figure to her players; a revered ambassador for her university and state; a trailblazer for women; and a role model for people all over the world passed away early Tuesday in Knoxville at the age of 64. The UT athletic department wrote: "Born Patricia Sue Head on June 14, 1952 in Clarksville, Tn., she arrived ... (click for more)

General Bell: Chattanooga Needs The Coolidge Medal Of Honor Heritage Center - And Response (7)

I'm pleased and indeed compelled to let you know a bit more about the exciting and most honorable "Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center" planned for Coolidge Park.     Here's what the Heritage Center will be:  It will be a fitting capstone for Chattanooga's Coolidge Park on Northshore in downtown Chattanooga.  While this exceptional Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Pat Summitt’s Dash

In 1996 a woman named Linda Ellis wrote one of life’s most beautiful poems. Called “The Dash,” its first two verses read like this: “I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end. “He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke the following date with tears, but he said what ... (click for more)

UTC Coach Jim Foster Recalls His Memories Of Pat Summitt

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s head basketball coach Jim Foster took time out Tuesday afternoon to meet with local media to answer questions about his relationship with the late Pat Summitt, the former head coach and most recently the Head Coach Emeritus of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols.   The two Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coaches met each ... (click for more)

Unbeaten Fairyland Clinches Red Division Swim Title

Members of the Calhoun swim team were set and ready to compete on the pool deck at the Fairyland Club Monday night, but they never got wet as the meet was postponed by lighting, thunder and the overall threat of stormy weather. They made the long trip back about 24 hours later and the second time around wasn’t nearly as productive as 21 less swimmers made the trip to the top ... (click for more)