KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Investigators with the Knoxville Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) have determined that the fire at the Planned Parenthood in Knoxville was purposely set. KFD says the individual or individuals who started the fire have not been identified yet.
On Friday, investigators offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the successful prosecution of the person or persons responsible for the suspected arson.
The fire took place on Dec. 31 at around 6:39 a.m. and while no injuries were reported the fire did completely destroy the building. ATF joined the investigation due to the political nature of the building.
“KFD’s firefighters worked tirelessly last Friday to extinguish this fire, and our fire investigators, with assistance from ATF, TBI, and Knox County fire investigators, have worked meticulously over the last week and will continue to investigate this fire,” said Fire Chief Stan Sharp.
“This is an appalling and heartbreaking act of violence towards Planned Parenthood, our patients, and our community,” said Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee & North Mississippi. “As we reckon with this news and the road ahead of us, we remain tremendously grateful for the hard work and determination of the Knoxville Fire Department and the ATF to find the cause of this fire and bring the person, or persons, responsible to justice.”
The clinic was undergoing a $2.2 million renovation at the time of the fire. Just under one year ago on Jan. 22, 2021, the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, an unknown individual fired a shotgun through the front door. That investigation is still ongoing.
“It must be made clear that these hateful acts go much further than property damage — they harm the patients who depend on safe Planned Parenthood health centers, staff, and providers to receive trusted, essential health care services,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Coffield said Thursday they plan to rebuild the Knoxville clinic. The clinic is one of four Planned Parenthood locations in the state. The other three Planned Parenthood clinics are located in Memphis and Nashville.