Investigator suspects vagrants started huge blaze at Cleveland Chair Co.

Investigator suspects vagrants started huge blaze at Cleveland Chair Co.

December 16th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Cleveland Fire Department and state Arson and Bomb Squad members spent two days this week going through the rubble left by a fire that destroyed Cleveland Chair Co.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The fire that destroyed the century-old Cleveland Chair Co. building early Dec. 8 has been ruled a "set fire," Cleveland Fire Department Arson Investigator Donnie Sullivan said Thursday.

"We do think it was a set fire, in the nature of somebody trying to keep warm," Sullivan said.

He said there is evidence on the concrete floor of fires being started inside the building over a long period of time.

"We didn't see any signs of criminal activity," Sullivan said. "It was probably vagrants."

He said no traces of accelerants were found in the ruins.

Temperatures on the night of the fire a week ago were below freezing, according to the fire department.

Cleveland Fire Department and state Arson and Bomb Squad members spent two days this week going through the rubble left by the destruction of the three-story building.

If evidence of a crime should emerge later, Fire Chief Steve Haun said, an investigation would be reopened.

"But it was the opinion of the Bomb and Arson Squad and Donnie that it was probably an incendiary fire that somebody set for warmth," Haun said.

Sullivan said no human remains were found in the debris, which was searched by cadaver dogs.