KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville Fire Department investigators are asking for the public’s help to identify a person of interest in a fire that occurred at the closed Hotel Knoxville on East Hill Avenue. A $1,000 reward for information that leads to a criminal prosecution is also being offered.

KFD spokesman Mark Wilbanks said Friday that investigators were able to obtain video footage as well a still picture of a person of interest who may have information about the fire.

Firefighters responded to the fire at the closed Hotel Knoxville, which was sold at foreclosure auction in March 2020 for $8.3 million, at 1:42 a.m. on Thursday, finding heavy smoke on the ground level coming from the ballroom area, but no flames were visible. The hotel fire alarm and sprinkler system were also activated.

Wilbanks said Thursday that fire crews made a rapid-fire attack into the ballroom area, where they found several mattresses and pieces of furniture on fire. They worked to extinguish the fire and it was reportedly out by 2:05 a.m. The building sustained minor smoke damaged and moderate water damage due to the sprinkler system, which Wilbanks says assisted crews in controlling the furniture fire to the ballroom area.

If you recognize the person of interest in the shared photo, or have any information about the incident, submit a tip to 1-800-762-3017 or email There is a reward of up to $1,000 for information that would lead to the prosecution of anyone involved in any criminal activity related to the fire. All calls are confidential.