Fire Marshal’s office continues investigation into fire at Southern Chef

Child appears to set fire to soda display, seen on video, fire marshal says

Fire Marshal's office investigates fire at Southern Chef

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The Jonesboro Fire Marshal’s office is investigating a fire that officials say is disturbing, in which a young child appeared to set fire at a store Saturday morning.

According to Jonesboro Fire Marshal Jason Wills, authorities went to the Southern Chef convenience store in the 2300 block of South Caraway Road around 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

Wills said surveillance video at the store appeared to show a young boy intentionally setting a fire.

“The videos show the boy take a torch style lighter from the front counter, go to the chip and snack aisle, set the racks of chips on fire, lay the torch lighter on a display of sodas, and go back to his mother. This is terrifying. Had a customer not noticed the fire and used soda and water to extinguish the fire early, it could have consumed the building,” Wills said.

Wills says it’s crucial to find the juvenile as soon as possible.

“We have a juvenile fire setting program. We need to reach out and find this person as quickly as possible, so this doesn’t happen again,” said Wills.

Wills says this fire could have easily gotten out of hand.

“The fire originated in a rack of potato chips, and those can burn extremely fast. And that fire could have quickly overtaken the entire store,” Wills said.

The Jonesboro Fire Marshal's office is investigating a fire in which authorities believe a child set a chip aisle on fire Saturday at a store.
The Jonesboro Fire Marshal's office is investigating a fire in which authorities believe a child set a chip aisle on fire Saturday at a store. (Source: Jonesboro Fire Marshal's office)

Manager and son to the owners, Mohnish Kumar, came to the store shortly after the fire occurred. He says he is still trying to process everything.

“It’s frightening. It’s very frightening. It’s our livelihood, so it could hurt a lot,” said Kumar.

The Fire Marshal’s office is trying to locate the child and his mother about the case, Wills said.

Anyone with information on the case can call Jonesboro CrimeStoppers at 870-935-STOP.

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