Homeless men plead guilty to McClung Warehouse fire

Two homeless men have pleaded guilty to setting fire to the remaining McClung Warehouse buildings in downtown Knoxville.

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Robert Earl Montgomery and Joey Patrick Bryant were arrested just over a month after the large blaze on February 1 nearly destroyed the last two historic structures on the property. They were so heavily damaged, they had to be demolished for safety reasons.

The Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's office said both men pleaded guilty on Monday to arson and aggravated assault. They will be sentenced on September 18, and could face up to three years behind bars.

According to the arrest warrants, the two men and a women broke into the building in the early morning areas, where the two men started the fire with a lighter. When it got out of control, the three ran.

The men then assaulted and threatened the woman to keep her from telling police what happened. She was not charged.

Related: McClung Warehouse coming down, piece by piece

Related: McClung Warehouse bricks given to Knox Heritage

The massive fire happened nearly seven years after another fire devastated the property. The city had hoped to find a developer to revitalize the historic buildings, but they had to be razed. The city still plans to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to determine what will happen to the site on Jackson Avenue.

More: Lessons learned: KFD employs new strategies to fight McClung fires

More: McClung one of several changes to Knoxville skyline in 2014


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