Knoxville — According to court records, arson suspect Nicholas Wade Carter, 18, of Knoxville, was cleaning at 110 East Robinson and set the fire in the hopes of being done with it.
The fire broke out around 1:50 p.m. Monday, March 25. A passerby reported the fire by calling 911.
Lt. Justin Kingrey with the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the County's fire investigator, began to look into the situation shortly thereafter. In an affidavit Kingery filed over the weekend, the investigator said he learned that there were two individuals in the building before the fire began. He alleges that Carter was one of them, and that Carter was present minutes before the call came into the sheriff's office.
Carter allegedly admitted to begin there. The fire began when a candle was lit, and the open flame was placed near combustible materials. Carter is accused of intentionally walking out with the candle burning. The candle was placed out of the sight of the second individual. Court records say that Carter knew his friend would put the flame out if the friend had seen it, and Carter did not want that to happen.
Kingrey's complaint against Carter reads, "(Carter) wanted to burn some of the stuff that was in the building because he was tired of cleaning the items out of the building and just wanted to be done with it."
Five fire departments (City of Knoxville, Knoxville Township, Indiana Township, Pleasantville and Pella) responded to the blaze. It was knocked down within two hours. Knoxville Fire Chief Nick Bonstell and Marion County Sheriff Jason Sandholdt both released statements over the weekend, regarding the fire and ensuing investigation.
Sandholdt especially wanted to recognize the work of Lt. Justin Kingrey, "Lt. Kingrey spent a lot of time focusing on this case so that we would know the truth. His experience as a former fire fighter and now arson investigator for the Sheriff's Office was very beneficial during this investigation.”
"This should be a clear message to anyone in the City of Knoxville that we will aggressively investigate all fires," Bonstell said. "We will not tolerate arson. The cooperation between the Marion County Sheriff's Department and the City of Knoxville was pivotal in this case. Thanks to everyone who worked long and hard on this case."
Other agencies who assisted with the fire include the Knoxville Police Department, Knoxville Public Works, Marion County Emergency Management, the State of Iowa Fire Marshal's Office, American Red Cross and Mid-American Energy.
Carter is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, April 5, at 9:30 a.m. We will continue to follow this case as it progresses.