A Chattanooga man has been charged with aggravated arson after starting a fire at Erlanger Hospital when he was told he could not smoke cigarettes in his room.
According to police, Jimmy Maxwell had gone to the emergency room at Erlanger and had been admitted to another room when a nurse spotted him smoking a cigarette. She asked him to put it out. She told police, as he followed her directions, he also took off his shirt, causing a lighter he had hidden to fall to the floor.
The nurse said she left the room at that point because the cigarette smoke made her sick. Another nurse walked by a short time later after smelling smoke coming from the room. She asked Maxwell what he was burning, but he told her nothing.
At that time, she asked a police officer to come into the room. It was he who noticed that several ceiling tiles above the bed were smoking and starting to turn black. Within moments, he could also see flames.
The Erlanger employees were immediately notified and patients were evacuated from nearby rooms.
When the fire was put out, it was discovered that Maxwell had put his shirt in the ceiling and lit it on fire.
In addition to aggravated arson, Maxwell has also been charged with reckless endangerment. His bond was set at $100,000.