Fire at Nashville Rescue Mission, police say intentionally set

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One man was arrested early Thursday morning for aggravated arson after police said he intentionally started a fire in the Nashville Rescue Mission bathroom.

According to an arrest affidavit, when Thomas Rice Jr. was asked to put the fire out, he refused. The arrest warrant states when police asked him why he started the fire, he told them “because I had to.”

Michelle Brinson, the communications manager for Nashville Rescue Mission, said Rice lit a piece of paper on fire that “was quickly put out without even the need of contacting the Metro Fire Department.”

Brinson said Mero police was contacted because Rice wouldn’t cooperate with staff in leaving the bathroom, and that staff cannot physically remove a “non-compliant guest.”

When asked to leave, Rice refused. He was arrested and charged with aggravated arson.

Brinson continued, “At no point did anyone on staff feel their lives were in danger or that the Mission was at risk of being burned down. Unfortunately, these types of minor issues happen on a much more frequent basis than you might imagine.”

According to Brinson the incident “highlights the bigger issue regarding the lack of mental health resources for those experiencing homelessness.”

If you’d like to learn more about how the Nashville Rescue Mission works with those experiencing homelessness click this link.

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