At 10:30 p.m. on the evening of October 6, 1993, an automatic fire alarm system was activated at the WalMart Store at 3915 Austin Peay Highway. Three minutes later, dispatchers received a frantic call from a store operator reporting a fire in the warehouse. Wal-Mart’s storage area had been the site of a smaller fire one week earlier. As the first fire company arrived, heavy smoke was pouring from the front of the store, and shortly afterwards the fire broke through the roof. A total of five alarms were sounded, bringing 40 fire companies and over 200 fire fighters to the blaze. Fire fighters worked for two grueling hours to get the fire under control. The blaze was successfully confined the Wal-Mart building, but the huge store, at an area of over 149,000 square feet, was completely destroyed. The cost estimate for damage caused by the fire was a stunning $12 million dollars, the highest loss ever recorded in the city’s history. It was discovered that someone had tampered with a valve that controlled the store’s automatic sprinkler system. No fire fighters were injured, but fire companies remained on the fire scene for days as local and federal investigators looked into the cause of the fire. After three days, the investigators determined the cause was arson. Eventually, a suspect was arrested and charged in the case.

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