Fire officials confirmed that the blaze that destroyed a Planned Parenthood building in Knoxville, Tennessee, was arson.
Officials from the Knoxville Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) concluded that the fire was intentionally set following an investigation, though they say they don’t know who the arsonist is.
The Knox County Emergency Communications Center received a call at 6:39 a.m. on December 31, with crews declaring a “total loss” of the building after arriving on the scene. The department said there weren’t any injuries.
“This is an appalling and heartbreaking act of violence towards Planned Parenthood, our patients, and our community,” said Ashley Coffield, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee & North Mississippi. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have mourned at this health center.”
On January 22, 2021, an unidentified man fired shots at the building, shattering the front glass door. According to NPR, the building was in the midst of a $2.2 million renovation when the fire occurred.
“It must be made clear that these hateful acts go much further than property damage — they harm the patients who depend on safe Planned Parenthood health centers, staff, and providers to receive trusted, essential health care services,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
The Knoxville Fire Department has requested anyone with information about the fire to contact them at 1-800-762-3017 or email [email protected] The department is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to prosecution.