- A devastating fire resulted in the “total loss” of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Knoxville, Tennessee.
- Officials are investigating the cause of the fire, and they have not yet ruled out arson.
- In January last year, a gunman opened fire at the glass of the building’s exterior.
A devastating fire on New Year’s Eve took out a Planned Parenthood clinic in Tennessee, resulting in a “total loss,” fire officials said.
The fire broke out early on December 31 in Knoxville, Tennessee and the cause of the blaze has not been determined, according to a statement released by the city’s fire department.
“On arrival companies found a large single story commercial building fully involved with fire through the roof,” the statement says. “Crews initially attacked the fire defensively from the exterior. Currently the fire is under control and should be declared out shortly. The building was being renovated at the time of the fire. The building is a total loss. The fire is currently under investigation. Further information will be released as the investigation continues.”
At the time of the fire, the clinic had been closed due to renovations, NBC affiliate WBIR reported. There were no injuries, the fire department said.
The department is investigating causes, including the possibility of arson.
“Right now we don’t have a cause and we don’t have a lot of information pointing in the direction of arson,” Assistant Chief Mark Wilbanks told the Daily Beast.
If the cause is determined to be arson, it will be at least the second time that the Knoxville Planned Parenthood clinic has come under attack within the span of one year. In January last year, a gunman opened fire, shooting rounds of a shotgun into the glass of the building’s exterior. There was nobody inside at the time of the shooting.
The damage from the fire was so extensive that fire officials are predicting that it will be difficult to determine a cause.
When fire officials arrived at the scene, they had to use a lot of water to douse the fire and get the situation under control, Wilbanks told the Daily Beast.
“We used our ladder trucks to use a lot of water to put the fire out, which unfortunately makes it harder to dig into the evidence,” he said. “Ideally, you’d go in there with backhoes and dig it out, but we’re going to have to use hand shovels.”
News of the fire comes as abortion-rights groups continue to push back against a series of restrictive reproductive rights laws and the fear that Roe v. Wade might be overturned in the Supreme Court.