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17-year-old suspected of starting Sparta Walmart fire causes “$7 million” in damage and loss,” according to police



A fire truck outside the Sparta Walmart on Dec. 26, 2023 (PHOTO: Sparta Fire Department)

SPARTA, Wis. — A 17-year-old was arrested Tuesday, suspected of starting a fire that caused an “well over $7 million of damage and loss” inside the Sparta Walmart, according to the Sparta Police Department.

Smoke fills the Sparta Walmart during a fire on Dec. 26, 2023 (PHOTO: Sparta Fire Department)

The Walmart was evacuated due to the fire being too large for the building sprinkler system. The store will be closed for at least the next few days, the department said.

The 17-year-old was booked into Monroe County Jail on several charges, including arson and recklessly endangering safety, the department said.

The 911 call came in at 10:40 a.m. The Sparta Fire Department was able to extinguish the flames with no assistance from other fire departments, though the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, the 911 Communications Center, the Sparta Street Department, Sparta Area Ambulance and the Fort McCoy Police Department assisted in the operation.

The Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation is assisting in the investigation.

An update to the case will come later this week.

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