Knoxville College neighbors worry about series of fires

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – After several weekend fires within a quarter mile of each other, including two at Knoxville College, people who live in the area are getting worried.

“It’s scary,” said Anthony Elmore. “I’ve been over here about 14 years and it’s disturbing.”

The Knoxville Fire Department is investigating the fires as arson and said it appears to be the work of kids who need more supervision.

Previous story: Knoxville Fire Department investigating 2nd fire at Knoxville College

With Knoxville College shut down and empty buildings spread across the campus, it’s hard to keep things like this from happening.

Dr. Jane Redmond, the school’s management team leader, said the Knoxville College has had problems with people breaking in to steal copper and homeless people living in the vacant buildings. She said as soon as they board them up, the work gets torn down, making it difficult to prevent incidents like the fires.

“It’s a cat and mouse game and they enjoy it,” said Captain DJ Corcoran with the Knoxville Fire Department. “They’ll keep doing it until they’re either caught or something severe happens to them.”

While investigators are hoping we’ve seen the last of the fires in the area, this is something KFD has seen before. A couple of years ago, Corcoran said, there was a similar pattern of fires and it didn’t wrap up after just a couple small ones.

“Just from past experience it doesn’t end like that,” he explained. “They call them serial arsonists. They started out setting some leaves on fire, just nuisance type fires and then it escalated to a structure.”

“They’re doing it for the pure excitement,” Corcoran said of the current suspects.

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