Arson suspected in McMinn winery Fire - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Arson suspected in McMinn winery Fire

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MCMINN COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- Strikers Winery now stands in ruins after more than a decade of business in McMinn County.

The sign in front burned and the sheriff's crime scene tape is less than welcoming.

Fire fighters say the blaze started on the front porch and spread to the attic.

"It was tough because it is a wood frame and it is a little bit older," says chief Harold Eaton. "also the attic fire are one of the worst fires there are to contend with."

Family close by tells Channel 3 no one was home at the time and the building was over 90 years old. The owner had dropped the insurance policy six months ago because business was too slow to pay for it.

It started in the front of the building and state investigators want to see if someone did this on purpose.

"Just on out initial review it appeared there might be some accelerant in the area where the fire began on the front of the building," said Sheriff Joe Guy.

"There are just some things there that didn't look right so we thought it would be best to bring in the bomb and arson unit to investigate and determine if there was arson or not," added Eaton

The creek in front wouldn't allow the trucks to get close to flames and the intense heat kept fire fighters at bay.  

Chief Eaton says the wine fueled the fire.  "I'm unsure how much wine was in there but whenever you're dealing with alcohol or chemicals like that, it was a dangerous situation for the guys."

A once proud family business now a total loss and years of history ruined. This was the only winery in town and we are told rebuilding is out of the question.

"There were several people who would go to the winery," says Eaton. "It would save them from driving to other cities to get their wine."

We are told the arson team is currently meeting to determine if this was indeed arson.

So far nearly $90,000 in damages are estimated.

If you have any information, call the McMinn County Sheriff's Office at 423-745-5620.

 

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