Investigators seek cause of fire at old Cleveland Chair Co. site

Investigators seek cause of fire at old Cleveland Chair Co. site

December 14th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Art Wolf and Rad search for possible cadavers as state and local officials begin a two day investigation scouring the former Cleveland Chair Co. for evidence as to what started the Dec. 9 fire.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Investigators began clearing away some of the rubble Tuesday to try to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed the vacant former Cleveland Chair Co. building last week.

"The first step is to make sure the area is safe for our guys to go in," said Ben Atchley, training coordinator for the Cleveland Fire Department.

Cleveland Fire Chief Steve Haun said the work, which includes sweeps with cadaver dogs, may take several days.

Haun said state and local investigators are mindful that there could be human remains on the site, if by chance a homeless person was inside what once was a three-story factory building.

"Hopefully, we will find no remains," Haun said. "They believe it started on the Ninth Street side, probably in the east corner area."

The fire was reported before sunrise Dec. 8.

Tuesday morning, a team from the state's bomb and arson squad and local fire investigators assembled at the scene where some spots still were smoldering.

Three cadaver dogs were brought in, but nothing was found Tuesday, authorities said.

Arson investigator Donnie Sullivan of the Cleveland Fire Department said, "We will be searching where we think the fire started."

The search of the rubble will continue this morning, authorities said.