KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — One person has been arrested in connection to an arson that destroyed an adult store in Kalamazoo.
The fire at Hollywood Nights, located at 3307 S. Westnedge Ave. near White Road, was called in around 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, authorities say. Crews remained on the scene for about four and a half hours. The building was leveled and is a total loss.
A Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety lieutenant told 24 Hour News that a witness called police and said they saw someone running from the area of the store with an ax. A second witness on the scene corroborated that story.
A vehicle matching the description of one seen leaving the scene of the fire was later spotted by a Kalamazoo County sheriff’s deputy near Merrill Park in Kalamazoo, at which point the driver led the deputy on a brief chase before crashing. An ax was recovered near where the car was initially spotted.
The 41-year-old driver, a Kalamazoo County resident, was arrested and was being questioned Wednesday night. He is expected to be arraigned as early as Thursday morning and as late as Friday.
Police do not think the suspect has a relationship with the owner of the Hollywood Nights. The motive of the arson is still unclear.
A KDPS lieutenant told 24 Hour News 8 the fire was initially called suspicious because the store should have been closed and empty when the fire broke out, but the fire was believed to have started inside.
Firefighters dealt with extremely cold temperatures as they fought the fire — it was about 10 degrees and wind chills were around -10 degrees. They had to run water through their hoses continuously so they wouldn’t freeze. Their yellow uniforms were covered in ice.
“The temperatures are so low, hyperthermia is easy to set in,” Kalamazoo Fire Marshal Jim Williams said. “It’s a big concern. Its something we don’t take lightly. … You have to monitor it, keep tabs on the employees, get them into the warmth.”
Consumers Energy and Michigan State Police also responded to the scene.
24 Hour News 8’s Steve Kelso contributed to this report.