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Officials: Few clues in Knoxville College fires

May 28th, 2013 9:12 pm by Jim Balloch, Knoxville News Sentinel

Officials: Few clues in Knoxville College fires

Knoxville Fire Department investigators on Tuesday continued their search for clues to the identify of the person or persons who set two small fires on the campus of Knoxville College in Mechanicsville.

The fires were set in stairwell areas of the vacant Martin Luther King Towers building, 901 Knoxville College Drive.

No one was injured. Firefighters quickly extinguished both blazes.

The first report of a fire came at 12:01 a.m. from a student. That fire was in the stairwell in the basement area, KFD Capt. Mark Wilbanks said.

Meanwhile, two other students at a different location saw the fire.

After calling 911, they tried unsuccessfully to put it out with a fire extinguisher.

When KFD personnel arrived on the scene, they discovered a second fire, on the fourth floor level of the building. That fire also had been set in the stairwell area, Wilbanks said.

It appears that both fires were had been set at about the same time, he said.

Firefighters had both fires out by 12:24 a.m.

Following interviews of the three students and some other persons, Wilbanks said, there are no suspects, no known motives and few clues. But the investigation will continue, he said.

The fire captain said that over the past few years, there have been periodic episodes of small, deliberately set fires on the campus.

“We think there are some security issues with the campus,” he said.

But there is no particular pattern to the fires, he said.

The most recent one was a trash fire on Feb. 7 — also in the Martin Luther King Towers building.

“We really don’t know if it is vagrants who are responsible, or someone who lives in the area,” Wilbanks said.

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