|On May 18, 2017 at approximately 3:15 PM Kingsport Central Dispatch was notified of a commercial structure fire in the 400 block of West Sullivan Street, traditionally known as “Supermarket Row.” Upon arrival, responding Firefighters from the Kingsport Fire Department found a building, located at 443 West Sullivan Street, fully involved, making a safe interior attack virtually impossible. This was a vacant building that most recently housed a Hometown IGA grocery store and was previously home to an Oakwood grocery store.
Kingsport Police Department Patrol Officers established a perimeter to safely reroute pedestrian and vehicular traffic away from the scene. Firefighters quickly set up a defensive position and were able to successfully keep the fire contained to the single structure and prevent it from spreading to other nearby buildings. Firefighters continued to battle the fire, which persistently burned and smoldered well into the night. It was eventually completely extinguished during the early morning hours of the following day. The building is being considered a total loss; however, fortunately no injuries were reported.
Long before the fire was doused, an investigation began into what, and in this case who, caused it. This was a joint investigation, conducted cooperatively between the K.P.D. Criminal Investigations Division and the K.F.D. Fire Marshal’s Office. While interviewing bystanders and potential witnesses, two male juveniles (ages 11 and 12) were quickly identified as possible persons of interest.
Through further inquiry and analysis, to include subsequent interviews with the juveniles in question, investigators were able to positively establish that these two individuals did in fact start the fire. On May 25, 2017, after consulting with the Office of the Sullivan County District Attorney General regarding the facts of the case and appropriate charges, Juvenile Petitions were obtained, charging these two culprits with the criminal offenses of 1) Aggravated Criminal Trespassing and 2) Reckless Burning.
The juveniles, to be accompanied by their parents and/or guardians, are scheduled for arraignment in Sullivan County Juvenile Court on June 2, 2017. As this is an active and ongoing investigation involving minors, with court proceedings pending, absolutely no additional details or information can or will be released at this time.