(WBIR-Sevierville) Investigators believe an arsonist set each of the five house fires independently in Sevierville early Monday morning.
"I cannot recall it ever happening since I've been here, for over 20 years, where we've had multiple dwellings that we suspect of arson in one incident," said City of Sevierville's public information officer, Bob Stahlke.
Firefighters started working on the first house fire at the 500 block of Apple Ridge Way at about 3:45 a.m. when they noticed a second fire next door. Soon, a third, fourth and fifth house were on fire down the road. At one point, every fire department in Sevier County were fighting the five fires. Crews said the first house is a complete loss, but each subsequent fire caused less damage.
Police don't believe the first house was occupied because there was no furniture was inside. As far as they know, no one has lived there for quite some time.
Investigators are looking into who owns the property, who has lived there in the past, and a possible arsonist. It could take some time before an exact cause is known.
"In this situation, like in all fires actually, we have to wait until the scene itself has cooled down enough where the firemen can go in there along with the fire marshal and start collecting evidence and surveying that scene. You usually have to wait a day or two for that and then of course once they get in there and start collecting things it depends on what they find. Sometimes we're fortunate and they can find things pretty quick. Other times it takes a while and you may have to send evidence off for forensic analysis as well. So it's very difficult to say," said Stahlke.