Children may have sparked fire in abandoned building

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A building near the old Coach and Four hotel on Lamar went up in smoke Monday morning, but it's who may have set the structure on fire that had one witness scratching her head.

"I see two little kids," witness Sandra Ford recalled. "Their heads popped up out of the window."

Ford said she thought the sight was unusual, wondering why they would be in the building around 10:00 a.m. Monday.  Ford thought the children looked young.

"Ranging from three to five for the youngest," she said. "And the older of the two, maybe eight to ten years old."

Ford called the Memphis Police Department's non-emergency number to report the children in the building.

"Maybe ten minutes later they called me and said, 'Did you see the kids? There's a fire next door.' Unfortunately, I didn't see them leave," she said.

Lt. Wayne Cook of the Memphis Fire Department said investigators suspect the kids set the fire and then left.

"It does appear suspicious," he said.

Now, the arson squad is working another case, inside another empty building.

"You have children that are playing in these facilities, and then you have vagrants that go inside these facilities seeking shelter. So it always presents a problem," he said.

And while Ford was tired of looking at the old Coach and Four Building, and said it should be torn down, she had more pressing questions.

"Where's the adult?" she asked.  "Are (the children) homeless? Should they be in school? Is the school checking on them?"

If you have information about the blaze that could aid investigators, call CrimeStoppers at 901-528-CASH.

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