Highland Park Baptist Church Fire Intentional – Person of Interest Sought

Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) – Investigators are searching for a person of interest in connection to the fire at Highland Park Baptist Church on June 10. The fire was intentionally set according to investigators. Photos from the scene show a man on a bicycle in the area around the time of the fire. Investigators seek the public’s help in identifying the person in the photos.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Tennessee Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017. A cash award of up to $5,000 is available for tips that lead to an arrest.

Read the full press release below:

There are new developments in the investigation into the massive fire that heavily damaged the Phillips Chapel and Chauncey-Goode Auditorium in Downtown Chattanooga. The local landmarks were central parts of the former Highland Park Baptist Church and Tennessee Temple University. Chattanooga Fire Department investigators say the blaze was intentionally set and they are looking for a person of interest in the case. Still photos taken from surveillance footage show a man on a bicycle in the area at the time of the fire. The CFD is asking for the public’s help identifying the person seen in the pictures as investigators continue building their arson case.

The three-alarm fire sparked a huge response by Chattanooga firefighters and many other agencies, spanning 24 hours and resulting in parts of the buildings being torn down due to fire damage. Companies were called to 1906 Bailey Avenue on Friday, June 10, 2022 at 7:13 PM after a passerby spotted smoke and notified 911. The property is now part of the Redemption to the Nations Church campus. It is located near the corner of Union Ave and South Orchard Knob Avenue.

Crews from Station 5 in Highland Park saw the smoke from the fire hall as they were leaving and found heavy, black smoke coming from all four sides of the church, as well as the roof, on arrival. Due to the conditions and size of the structure and adjoining/surrounding buildings, more companies were brought to the scene. Firefighters made entry multiple times to locate the fire and they attacked flames in several locations between the first and third floor. Officials from the church advised that the vacant buildings were structurally unsafe. At that time, everyone was evacuated and defensive firefighting operations got underway. Ladder trucks were placed on all sides of the buildings for elevated master streams to contain the fire and protect adjacent structures. Twenty one of the CFD’s 26 companies were on the scene- more than 100 personnel. It was a very taxing operation for everyone involved. Our Tri-State Mutual Aid Association partners from across the region filled in at our fire halls and answered calls while the CFD worked this major incident.

In addition to our Blue Shift personnel on the scene and members of our command staff, the following agencies also responded: Hamilton County 911’s Incident Dispatch Unit, Hamilton County EMS, CPD, Public Works, Tennessee American Water, CFD’s Fleet Division, CFD’s Investigations Division, CFD Special Operations, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Rescue’s Rehab Unit, Chattanooga Land Development Office, city building inspectors and the Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management. There were no injuries.

Investigators have worked tirelessly on this case, piecing information and evidence together. The staff from the Redemption to the Nations Church has been extremely helpful throughout this process, assisting the CFD along the way and we appreciate their efforts to aid investigators. We also thank the Chattanooga Police Department, TBI, and ATF for their assistance. We have heard from many people who have shared their memories from events held at these well-known Chattanooga structures through the years. Thousands have attended church services, meetings, weddings and graduations there. The CFD is dedicated to bringing this case to a close and finding who was responsible for setting the fire. Anyone with information is asked to call the Tennessee Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017. A cash award of up to $5,000 is available for tips that lead to an arrest.

Categories: Chattanooga, Crime, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News