FLINT TWP. — Police reportedly have made one arrest and an investigation continues of fires deliberately set on Wednesday, October 28 at the Home Depot store, 4380 W Corunna Rd., and on Thursday, October 29, at a store in Kochville Township in Saginaw County.
Authorities said they believe the two fires are linked.
The Flint Township fire appears to have been intentionally set to create a diversion for two people to steal merchandise, said Lt. Jim Baldwin, of the Flint Township Police Department. A similar scenario took place in Saginaw County the following day.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) have taken over the investigation of both incidents, Baldwin said.
One primary suspect was arrested Friday in Genesee County and an investigation is continuing on a second suspect, according to Lt. Randy Pfau, of the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office. The arrested suspect’s name has not been released, pending arraignment, he said.
The suspects are described as two men in their late 30s or early 40s. One is of medium height, thin build and unshaven. The second is about 6-foot-three, 250 pounds. They were believed to be driving a red, 1996 GMC Jimmy with a license plate beginning with the letter K.
The primary suspect was arrested on a parole violation but the ATF conducted search warrants and have seized evidence linked to the fires, according to Donald Dawkins, ATF public information officer.
Dawkins said that the ATF frequently works with law enforcement in both counties but is handling this case due to the potential for loss of life. Both stores were open for business and occupied by customers when the fires were set.
Dawkins said authorities expect to wrap up the investigation soon and may hold a press conference later this week.
Charges may be filed through the U.S. Attorney General’s office in Flint or Detroit, Dawkins said.
The Flint Township store sustained minor damage and reopened almost immediately while the Kochville Township store was extensively damaged and closed for several days, according to Stephen Holmes, a Home Depot corporate spokesperson.
He declined to release further details to avoid interfering with the criminal investigation.
Flint Township workers were able to act quickly to extinguish the fire and minimize damage, he said.
“We’re very grateful for the diligent work by law enforcement on this,” he said.