Officials announce arrest in Midtown arsons - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Kenney

Officials announce arrest in Midtown arsons

Willie Tyler (Courtesy Shelby County Sheriff's Department) Willie Tyler (Courtesy Shelby County Sheriff's Department)

Officials with the Memphis Police and Memphis Fire Departments announced the arrest of a suspect Thursday in a string of recent arsons in the 1400 block of Jefferson in Midtown Memphis.

Officials said Willie Tyler, 28, was charged with nine counts of arson in connection to the fires.

"To start this many fires and continue to do it, and the lives at risk each time he does it, is unbelievable to me," said Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin.

Witnesses said Tyler was seen leaving the scene of a fire Thursday morning on Jefferson, the eleventh such fire this week.  Within a half hour, police were able to track him down, but not before firefighter Kevin Fullington was hurt.

Fullington was transported to The Med in non-critical condition.

Memphis Fire Department Director Alvin Benson said eight firefighters have died as a result of arson in the past 16 years.

"Today could have been another one of those," Benson said.  "Yesterday could have been one of those.  That's not acceptable to me.  That's not acceptable to this community."

Officials said Tyler is a local vagrant, who often stayed in the same abandoned buildings let allegedly set on fire.  Investigators said they don't know why he set the fires.

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