Mixed community reactions to arson arrests - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mixed community reactions to arson arrests

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Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter

SODDY-DAISY, TN. (WRCB)-- A former volunteer fire fighter and his wife are charged with setting fire to their own home.

Along with arson, and conspiracy to commit arson, the couple also faces insurance fraud charges.  

Channel 3 spoke with a friend of the former fire fighter who was shocked by the news, and a few of his neighbors who weren't.  

"There's not a lot going on out here so when there's a fire everybody comes," says Tommy Daniels.

Since 1986, Tommy Daniels has ran the Mountain General Store on Montlake Road.  

"They live just across from my store," says Daniels.

From his parking lot Daniels has a clear view of the home where Andy and Randy Russ lived.

Andy even did some work for Daniels.  

"He did a little roofing for me so, he's kinda a jack of all trades," says Daniels. 

The couple and their three children haven't lived in the home since April, when it caught fire.  

"There was just fire coming out of one end of the house and right away the fire trucks and all were here," says Daniels.

Six months later signs of the fire are still obvious. Russ, a volunteer fire fighter himself, told neighbors and police he came home to the fire.

"It seems like he was on a field trip with his daughter," says Daniels.

A story the Hamilton County Sheriff's office didn't buy. 

Friday they charged Russ and his wife, Randy, with three counts of arson and filing fraudulent insurance claims. 

Several neighbors say Russ' behavior that day was strange.

Although he was aware his house was on fire and appeared hysterical, he didn't immediately call 911.   

"They were asking a lots of questions," says Daniels.

Daniels remembers Russ spent a lot of time talking to police that day. Still, news of the couple's arrest was shocking.  

"They just don't seem like the type that would have done that," says Daniels.

Andy Russ was a member of the Mowbray Volunteer Fire Department for about a year.

The fire chief says he voluntarily quit in July.  The couple was indicted after evidence was presented to the Grand Jury.

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