14-year-old girl charged with setting fire inside Peachtree City Walmart

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 8:15 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2022 at 12:55 PM EDT
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PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. (CBS46) - The Peachtree City Police Department confirms a 14-year-old girl has been arrested for setting a fire inside the Peachtree City Walmart last week.

Peachtree City emergency personnel responded to the Walmart on West Highway 54 at approximately 7:20 p.m. on Aug. 24. Police officers helped to evacuate the building while fire departments from Coweta County, Fayetteville and Fayette County battled the blaze.

“The person who set this fire is very lucky that they didn’t injure themselves in the case,” sand Peachtree City Fire Marshal Jeff Felmet.

It took firefighters throughout the night to get the fire under control. It was finally extinguished around 4 a.m. Although the store’s sprinkler system did function as designed, the store suffered extensive damage to the interior and the roof.

Peachtree City Police Department Special Press Release August 25th, 2022 At approximately 7:20 pm on August 24th, 2022, ...

Posted by Peachtree City Police Department and Peachtree City Fire Rescue on Thursday, August 25, 2022

Three Peachtree City police officers who evacuated the store had to be treated for smoke inhalation but no one was seriously injured.

Police later determined that the fire was intentionally set in the paper goods aisle.

“Early photographic and video evidence that was out out on social media was a big indicator to us to the origin and therefore the cause,” said Felmet.

Peachtree City Police Department’s Investigation Division, Peachtree City Fire/Rescue personnel, and the Wal-Mart asset protection team all assisted in the investigation into who started the fire. They say they were able to link initial eyewitness information with video evidence to develop a person of interest. Through further investigation, the person of interest was identified.

On the evening of Aug. 30, Peachtree City PD says it executed a search warrant on the person of interest’s home where they were interviewed and admitted to starting the fire. As a result, a 14-year-old female was taken into custody and charged with Arson in the 1st Degree.

Investigators say there was no motive behind setting the fire or participation in an organized activity. People on social media speculate it could be a part of a TikTok challenge.

“I don’t believe those questions have been asked or answered of the suspect. You can google it all you want and see what’s out there, but there’s no proof at this point that that was the motivation for this,” said Felmet.

There is still no timeline on when the store will be reopened at this time.

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