Police identify suspected arsonist in Knoxville Holiday Inn fire

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville Police have identified the suspected arsonist in a fire that broke out at a Knoxville hotel on Wednesday.

Police have charged Robert Hunter, 56, with felony aggravated arson after the Knoxville Fire Department responded to a fire at the Holiday Inn in the 9100 block of Executive Park Drive around 8:20 a.m. Wednesday.

When firefighters arrived, the hotel had already begun evacuating the 81 occupied units in the building and crews made their way to a room on the third floor were the fire had started.

Investigators entered room 304 after observing smoke and the fire alarm activated nearby. According to the incident report, investigators found a large mass of straw behind the vanity mirror and signs of an attempted ignition.

Hunter checked into room 304 around 1 p.m. on Tuesday. A bundle of straw consistent with the straw found in the room was found in the bed of Hunter’s pickup truck. A search of the suspect led to the discovery of multiple propane torches.

The total damages to the hotel were estimated at $30,000.

Hunter went to the hospital to be evaluated for smoke inhalation, but no one else required medical attention.

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