Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.
Oct. 22—This story was updated at 6:56 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 with more information.
Deputies have arrested a suspect in relation to a recent series of what authorities said were deliberately set fires in northern Catoosa and Walker counties.
Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk said that Casey Ryan McCloud, 31, was arrested around 1 p.m. Friday after citizens recognized him from security video footage released by the county of a building on Lafayette Road being set on fire on Wednesday.
McCloud faces two counts of arson now, though Sisk said the charges could change as both Catoosa and Walker county investigators take a closer look at a series of fires that have occurred in the area since April.
Catoosa County Fire Chief Randy Camp said the two charges are in relation to a house fire that occurred on Lafayette Road on Wednesday and a fire at an apartment complex on Brookhaven Circle on Thursday night. In total, he said there were “almost 10 fires” being looked at as possibly related due to similarities in how and where they were started, including cases in both counties.
“Evidence is still being submitted and tested in those other cases so we have not officially linked those at this time,” Camp said. “We do feel he probably is our suspect involved in those as well.”
Asked what the penalty for a crime like arson would typically be, Sisk said arson was a felony and that sentences usually range from 10 to 20 years.
News of the arrest comes just one day after Catoosa County officials sent out a plea asking the public for help identifying a man seen on a security camera video allegedly setting fire to a building in Fort Oglethorpe. Later on Thursday, at around 8:45 p.m. and just hours after the footage was released, a fire broke out at an apartment complex on Brookhaven Circle.
“The majority of the fire was on the outside of the building. We were able to make a quick knockdown but what added to that was a citizen who noticed the fire, went and grabbed a water hose and then extinguished the fire,” Camp said. “That definitely made a big impact in the outcome of that fire. It probably saved the building and the people inside.”
Camp said the man was on the second floor of the building watching the Braves play when he noticed the flames, went right outside and started work to put it out on his own.
“I want to commend him for that,” Camp said. He could not recall the man’s name.
The footage released early Thursday showed a man dressed in a hoodie walking toward the back of a building at the corner of Lafayette Road and Riddle Street at around 12:11 a.m. on Wednesday. Three minutes after he arrived at the back of the building, the fire could be seen to start. The man could then be seen walking, then running from the scene toward Cross Street.
Sisk said that video is what led concerned citizens to reach out. They thought they recognized McCloud and offered his name to law enforcement.
“They have been submitted for the $10,000 reward that was put up,” Sisk said.
In each of the incidents McCloud is facing charges for — and the others for which he does not face charges — the fires were started outside of the structure, then spread up along the walls to the rest of the building. In the case of the Lafayette Road fire, the flames were started using an accelerant on the stairs.
Sisk said a police K-9 was involved with the arrest on Friday. The dog “detected evidence” that he said helped law enforcement make the arrest. When asked if the evidence was accelerant — such as gasoline — Sisk repeated that the K-9 had detected something but did not elaborate.
Contact Kelcey Caulder at email@example.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.
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