Investigators are considering the Target on Sam Furr Road in Huntersville to be a crime scene as they determine whether a fire Monday inside the store was set intentionally. The Mecklenburg County fire marshal revealed Tuesday that the fire was discovered in the paper product aisle of the store. “It was already barreling up like past my height when I saw it,” Erin Soloman said. Soloman called 911 after seeing the fire in the middle of a shopping aisle, and said she immediately knew it was suspicious. “I saw the toilet paper and paper towels on fire,” Soloman said.
The Mecklenburg County fire marshal and Huntersville police are handling the investigation. They have not confirmed how the fire was started. As many as 36 firefighters from multiple agencies responded on the ground and on the roof, and extinguished the fire within 45 minutes. The fire was contained to the paper product aisle, but there is extensive smoke, soot and odor damage throughout the store, as well as water damage from the fire sprinkler system, according to the Mecklenburg County fire marshal.
“We’re looking at a lot of damage inside that building,” said Bill Suthard, spokesman for the Huntersville Fire Department. Three customers and one employee were treated for smoke inhalation, but no one was seriously hurt. “It definitely started getting hard to breathe and I even started to feel it in my eyes,” Jarrod Bennett said. While many shoppers describe the fire and emergency response as somewhat inconvenient, they’re thankful no one was hurt. “It would’ve been a much more unfortunate situation,” Soloman said.
Target released a statement on Tuesday regarding the fire: On Monday, the fire and police departments responded to a fire at our Huntersville Target store. At Target, the safety and security of our guests and team members is of the utmost important to us. We worked to quickly evacuate the store and provide medical treatment to a handful of guests and team members who needed it. At this time, the store remains closed as we assess the damage and determine when the store might reopen. This is an active investigation and we encourage you to contact local law enforcement with additional questions.