UPDATE: Athens Walmart Fire Ruled Arson; Store Reopens

By: WSAZ News Staff & WOUB Email
By: WSAZ News Staff & WOUB Email

UPDATE 11/27/13 @ 10 a.m.
ATHENS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The Athens Walmart is back open following a fire that closed the store Tuesday. The fire has been ruled arson.

A Walmart spokesperson tells WSAZ.com the store reopened at 6 a.m. Wednesday, after cleanup crews and associates spent most of Tuesday removing damaged items and cleaning up from the fire.

A spokesperson with Walmart tells WSAZ.com the fire started about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday in the paper towel aisle.

The Athens County Sheriff's Office says the fire was deliberately set and that the suspect used an accelerant.

The State Fire Marshal's Office says the fire has been ruled arson. They say the fire was intentionally set and caused significant damage to the building, which is now undergoing repairs and restoration.

According to a press release from the State Fire Marshal's Office a reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to the identification of the person(s) who set the fire.

“It is imperative that individuals come forward,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers. “Investigators want to hear from anyone who saw something out of the ordinary at or around the time of the fire or who may have heard someone speaking about the fire with an unusual level of interest or knowledge.”

A fast-thinking Walmart employee is reported to have extinguish the initial blaze and Athens firefighters contained the rest of it with minimal fire damage and no injuries but a strong smell of smoke pervaded the store and presumably some of the products.

Call the State Fire Marshal's Office at 604-752-7179 or Athens Police at 740-592-3315 if you have any information.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



ORIGINAL STORY 11/26/13 @ 2:30 p.m.
ATHENS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The Athens Walmart is closed until further notice after a fire Tuesday morning.

According to the Athens County Sheriff's Office, the suspect used an accelerant to start the fire in the paper towel aisle of the store.

A spokesperson with Walmart tells WSAZ.com the fire started about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

They say the store was evacuated.

Tuesday morning, Walmart employees were outside the store, turning people away customers.

Large fans were blowing smoke through the front door.

The Athens Police Department reported that the incident was quickly contained, and no injuries have been reported.

Athens Police, along with the State Fire Marshal's Office are investigating the fire.

Police believe they have a picture of the suspect, but it has not been released at this time.

A store spokesperson tells WSAZ.com they are currently working with APD, the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Athens Health Department to reopen the store.

They say they have no estimation when the store will reopen.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.


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