One Year Later: Still No Arrests In Walmart Arson

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It was one year ago today that Walmart officials and local shoppers were wondering whether Black Friday sales would go on as planned.

A fire, later ruled an arson, damaged parts of the Walmart in Athens and forced the closure of the East State Street store for about 24 hours.

The investigation into the fire is still ongoing by both the Athens Police Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office, according to officials at both agencies.

“The most recent activity (in the investigation) is last month,” Capt. Ralph Harvey of the APD said but did not elaborate.

Investigator Lt. Jeff McCall could not be reached for comment, but Harvey said McCall was leading the investigation and actively working the case, even after so much time has passed.

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire in the paper towel aisle of the store at about 3 a.m. on Nov. 26 and were on scene for about three hours. The store was closed until 6 a.m. on Nov. 27, and a spokesperson for Walmart told The Messenger that Black Friday sales would go on as normal.

The fire marshal determined that the fire was “intentionally set,” according to previous Messenger reporting.

The aisles are back to normal and officials are preparing for business as usual when it comes to Black Friday this year. No extra patrols are expected for the early morning and daytime shoppers, according to police and store officials.

A $5,000 reward was offered by the Blue Ribbon Arson Committee for information leading to an arrest in the case and the Athens County Crime Solvers offered a separate $2,000 cash reward for information that led to the arrest and/or indictment of the person.