Officials: Man set fire to former Piggly Wiggly in attempt to 'scare away homeless people'

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Posted at 3:30 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 16:30:39-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A man has been charged with felony aggravated arson after Nashville fire officials said he set a fire at the former Piggly Wiggly on Dickerson Road.

According to the Nashville Fire Department, 61-year-old Arthur Pettway set fire to the vacant store in an attempt to scare away homeless people who were living on the property on Sunday morning.

Firefighters were alerted of the fire around 9:45 a.m. When they arrived, firefighters saw flames inside the building that had spread from behind the property.

Officials said while the store was vacant, at least five people were living in an addition to the back of the building. No one was hurt in the fire.

Witnesses told firefighters Pettway came into the building and told them he was going to burn the structure down, warning them they had one hour to leave. Pettway is accused of pouring a liquid inside the building and setting it on fire about an hour after the warning.

Investigators said Pettway admitted to setting the fire, claiming those living in the building had been stealing from him.

He was arrested and charged with aggravated arson, a class A felony. Pettway remains in the Davidson County Jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond.