ROANE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — The Roane County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a suspect accused of setting multiple fires behind a home in Harriman.
The suspect has been identified as Billy Wright, 54, of Harriman. According to the Roane County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a home on Edwards Road after getting reports of a man threatening to burn down a home.
Chief Deputy Tim Hawn said the call came from homeowners in the area.
“They called and said they had an unknown male on their property that was yelling and cussing and threatening to burn the house down and burn other houses down on the road there. They didn’t have a clue as to who he was,” Hawn said.
Deputies were unable to make physical contact with Wright. After identifying him, they were able to get his phone number from a family member.
“We were able to talk to him by phone while he was out in the woods but we could not get him to come to where we were. We couldn’t get him to tell us where exactly he was in the woods. He was very uncooperative, as you can imagine,” Hawn said.
Aside from monitoring the wooded area that Wright entered, the sheriff’s office is also keeping tabs on places in town he is known to frequent.
The fires stretched several acres, but no structure damage or injuries were reported. Nathan Waters with the Tennessee Forestry Division said the fire is contained.
“They’re mainly establishing the dozer lines, in the daylight, it’s a lot easier to do that, then go through and make sure they don’t miss any snags, dead trees that might catch and smolder,” Waters said.
Multiple volunteer fire departments responded to the scene, with the forestry division. They plan to continue to monitor the area.
“The concern is, after the humidity goes back down if it dries out enough, it could creep back across the fire line so they’ll be back on this, some crews will, probably for the rest of the week,” Waters said.
Hawn said they don’t believe Wright is a threat to the public, and that his motive remains unclear. Anyone with information about his location is urged to contact the Roane County Sheriff’s Office at 865-376-5582.
“We do not have a clue as to why he went to this area, the people there don’t have a clue as to who he is. We don’t why he went there, to begin with, and why he was threatening to burn everything down, and why he ultimately set all those fires,” Hawn said.
One of the bulldozer operators with the forestry division was injured during the fire response when his equipment overturned. He was taken to Roane Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries and has since been released.