Topeka police took a man into custody after he caused a fire at the Topeka’s Sam’s Club Monday evening.
Police Department spokeswoman Gretchen Koenen says 19-year old Jacob Orlando Eugene Bosch was booked into the Shawnee County Jail at 12:48am Tuesday morning. He is being held on several charges including driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, drug possession, speeding and reckless driving.
The fire started about 6:45pm Monday evening after a vehicle hit a transformer and caught the building on fire as well as the car, emergency workers said. The situation caused a large black plume of smoke to be seen from across the city.
The incident happened on the back side of the building, according to emergency workers. The store evacuated shoppers, though the fire never got inside the building.
Firefighters quickly put out the flames, but officers discovered that the car that started the fire was empty.
Witnesses helped them find the driver who had fled to the Day’s Inn across the street. Officers arrested him. They believe he was the only person in the car.
Andrew Barnhill works next door to Sam’s and witnessed the whole thing.
“We just see smoke and fire coming up from the back of the building. So we run around and make sure everyone was ok,” Barnhill said. “The driver bailed out. I was on the phone with 911 when he started walking. I obviously knew he was alright, I shouted ‘hey are you alright?’ He gave the affirmative and I continued calling it in.”
The only person hurt was the driver. Officers said his injuries aren’t serious. They haven’t released his identity yet.
Sam’s Club lost power because of the fire. They tell KSNT News their store and gas station will be closed for at least the next three days.
Fire Officials estimate the damage will cost at least $100,000. Sam’s Club said they lost thousands of dollars more in perishable food when the power went out.
Sam’s Club also said an emergency response team is on their way from the home office to deal with the damage.
Witness captures smoke rising from Sam's Club after Monday evening fire in Topeka.
Posted by KSNT News on Monday, March 18, 2019