Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a reported fire shortly after 9 p.m. on Tuesday at the Scholze Adolescent Center at 911 Pineville Road. When the first firefighters arrived, they found small flames coming from a ceiling vent in one of the residential rooms.
Firefighters with Quint 17 and Engine 12 pulled out the smoldering materials and extinguished the fire with portable fire extinguishers. No injuries were reported and the loss was estimated at $500. Since it was fairly obvious that the fire had been deliberately set, a fire investigator was called to the scene.
Lt. Henry McElvain with the Fire Investigation Division said the center had three staff members and 17 teens present at the time of the fire. With assistance from another fire investigator, Captain Anthony Moore, Lt. McElvain interviewed a number of the teens present and within an hour or two, narrowed the possible culprits down to one suspect, a 17-year-old male. That teen was charged with aggravated arson and transported to the Juvenile Detention Center.
Lt. McElvain said others may face charges at the center as the investigation continues. The Chattanooga Police Department also provided assistance with this arrest.