MESA, AZ — A man has been arrested after allegedly starting a fire inside a Walmart in the East Valley Thursday, causing at least $6 million in damage.
At around 12:40 p.m. Mesa police and fire officials responded to a 1st Alarm fire call at the Walmart near Dobson Road and Rio Salado Parkway.
Mesa police say a transient man started the fire in the Garden Center and upon entry, officials described the smoke as “being so heavy that encompassed their feet, and so thick that the firefighters had little to no visibility as they walked inside.”
Firefighters from Mesa, Tempe and the Phoenix departments responded to help fight the fire.
Officials say the sprinkler system helped contain the fire after several pallets of merchandise caught fire.
After the fire was extinguished, investigators were able to discover the incident was caught on surveillance video.
Officers say the man was identified as Marcus Manygoats and was seen on video going into the Garden Center and gathering cushions and padding in a pile on the floor. He then was seen spraying lighter fluid on the items and set them on fire and running away with a blanket, jacket and other items from the store.
Due to his appearance in the surveillance video, investigators believed he might be transient and began searching the surrounding area.
Manygoats was located about 1,000 yards from the Walmart and was wearing the same clothing and in possession of the stolen items seen in the video.
Walmart officials say the smoke and water that went through the store caused between $6 and 10 million in damage including products, structure, and electrical systems.
Manygoats was arrested and is now facing arson, criminal damage and endangerment charges and is being held on a $200,000 bond.