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

Trooper Discovers Large Amount Of Drugs On Traffic Stop In Marion County

A member of the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s East Bureau Interdiction Plus team initiated a traffic stop   on Thursday   in Marion County that resulted in the discovery of 60 pounds of marijuana. During the traffic stop, the suspect fled the scene and is at large at this time. Trooper Brent McCawley stopped a Lexus ES300 for a traffic violation on Interstate 24 westbound ... (click for more)

Upcoming City Council Agendas

Here are the upcoming City Council agendas: I.    Call to Order. II.        Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Chairman Henderson). III.    Minute Approval.              IV.    Special Presentation. V.        Ordinances ... (click for more)

You’re Right With Lamar

One of Tennessee’s favorite sons, Davy Crockett, coined an oft-used phrase:  “Be always sure you’re right, then go ahead.” Being sure is quite important, but may be difficult in this election cycle. The Democratic nominee campaigning against Lamar Alexander is a man whose radio ads call for “change,” “fair” taxes and more jobs.  Sounds good, huh?   ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Troubling Jameis Winston

One of the greatest things about the American legal system is that each and every crime is judged on its own merits. Just because Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer and Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy were each arrested for domestic abuse earlier this week, each National Football League football hero will be given an independent hearing and trial, if need be, ... (click for more)

Hill, Wolfe Help Central Hand East Ridge First 6-AA Loss

On Tuesday, Central dropped its first District 6-AA volleyball match to Hixson. Two days later the Lady Purple Pounders did the same to East Ridge. With Rebekah Hill and Skyler Wolfe leading the rebound from Tuesday’s loss, Central swept East Ridge 3-0 and remained in the hunt for their second straight district championship. Set scores were 25-14, 25-16, 25-22. “The ... (click for more)

Lee Davis A Successful Runner Among Other Things

Lee Davis grew up in Philadelphia, went to college at Elizabethton College in Central Pennsylvania and graduated from law school at Boston University. He also became a pretty good runner during that time. Davis is a high-profile attorney in Chattanooga who does something physical every day.   He doesn’t train like he once did and he doesn’t even like to talk about ... (click for more)