A juvenile has been charged with arson in connection to the Red Roof Outlet Mall fire earlier this month, according to officials with the Pigeon Forge Police Department.
The fire broke out on Oct. 5., rendering Just Stop Smokies, a gift shop that had been doing business at the Red Roof Mall for nearly 20 years, a total loss.
Just Stop Smokies was located at 2828 Parkway, Suite 19. The store sold souvenirs, gifts and apparel.
According to the police report, Claritza Barrett, a Just Stop Smokies employee, was talking to a customer at the register around 2 pm when another customer approached, telling her there was a fire on the left wall across from the register.
Barrett immediately dialed 911 but had to drop the phone when she ran out of the building due to falling debris from the burning roof.
Attempts to subdue the fire before it got out of control were unsuccessful.
Barrett was the only employee working at the store at the time the fire broke out.
Officer Kyle Andre arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and witnessed a store that was engulfed in flames and black smoke. Andre and fellow officers began to evacuate nearby stores upon arrival.
The Pigeon Forge Fire Department arrived on the scene and requested mutual aid from the Sevierville Fire Department.
What we know about the juvenile who set the fire
Officers were told that a juvenile had lit a cardboard display on fire before fleeing the scene on foot.
Video surveillance footage gathered from the scene gave officers a visual description of the suspect as well as others who they may have been traveling with at the time.
There is currently no indication as to the motive or intention of the individual who started the fire.
Firefighters from multiple crews worked for nearly two hours to contain the fire as neighboring stores looked on in shock.
We spoke to Jamie Woody, store manager of the nearby Lid’l Dolly’s Factory Store around 3:30 pm, who provided photos of the active scene and indicated that the fire was substantial, but praised the efforts of local emergency crews for doing their best to contain the blaze.
“We send our thoughts and prayers to the business(es) involved,” said Woody.
The fire was reportedly under control by 4 pm, according to witnesses on the scene.
Pigeon Forge Police Chief Tony Watson says that fire crew was able to mostly contain the fire to a single building, but described Just Stop Smokies as a “complete loss”.
Watson said surrounding buildings may have suffered minor damage from smoke.
No injuries have been reported.
The owner of Just Stop Smokies, who has been a part of the Red Roof Outlet Mall spoke to WVLT and indicated that he was devastated by the loss.
The Pigeon Forge Factory Outlet Mall is the original factory outlet center in Pigeon Forge. It covers 196,000 square feet and houses major retailers including Carter’s Children’s Wear, L’eggs Hanes Bali Playtex, Rack Room Shoes and Oshkosh B’Gosh.
The Red Roof Factory Outlet Mall is an area icon for locals and a favorite stop among tourists.
The mall is located along the main strip of the Parkway in Pigeon Forge.