Investigators claim fire at Tennessee Planned Parenthood clinic was intentional
A fire that destroyed a Tennessee Planned Parenthood clinic was intentionally set, fire officials said Thursday.
Officials are looking for a suspect and asked the public to provide tips to the Knoxville Fire Department, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The building erupted in flames last Friday, with fire going through the roof.
Planned Parenthood officials promised to rebuild the facility, which is the organization’s only branch in East Tennessee.
“We are heartbroken at the loss of our beautiful new building, but I’m here to tell you that we are committed to Knoxville and East Tennessee, and we are determined to rebuild. Knoxville wants Planned Parenthood, our patients need us to be here and we are going to be here,” Ashley Coffield, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, said at a Thursday press conference at the site of the burned-down clinic.
The fire was the second act of violence against the clinic in the past year. In January 2021, someone fired a shotgun at the clinic’s doors, shattering the glass and peppering holes in the reception area. At the time of the shooting, the clinic was closed and unoccupied.
Planned Parenthood has not yet confirmed how the clinic will manage health care services in the coming months, though patients were being referred to telehealth services or to Planned Parenthood clinics in Nashville and Memphis while the building was under construction, a Planned Parenthood official said last week.
The Knoxville Fire Department urged community members to share information that could help investigators by calling 800-762-3017 or emailing KFDArson@knoxvilletn.gov. People who provide tips can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $10,000 for information that leads to the prosecution of anyone responsible.