UPDATE: Newell Avenue house fire ruled arson; arrest made
Chattanooga fire investigators arrested a woman Thursday afternoon in connection with a morning house fire at 1850 Newell Avenue.
Bruce Garner of the Chattanooga Fire Department said 36-year-old Melissa Freeman was arrested and charged with arson. Freeman has a mortgage on the home and lived there with her two teenage daughters. Both girls were reportedly at school during the fire.
Fire crews got to the house around 9:00a.m. with reports of a person inside. Firefighters forced their way into the locked home but determined no one was there after three searches of the home.
A dog in the yard blocked crews from entering the house. Garner said Chattanooga police officers cornered the dog until McKamey Animal Center arrived to subdue it and take it away.
Garner said Freeman denied setting the blaze but a lieutenant with the fire department said evidence shows otherwise. She was booked in the Hamilton County Jail. Damage is estimated at $40,000.