Goodwill Donation Site Destroyed In Fire

Tyler fire officials are determining if arson was the cause of a fire that destroyed a Goodwill donation storage site.

Officials said the fire began around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning at Old Troop Highway near Loop 323 in Tyler. The frame of the storage unit was all that was left.

"Who would want to burn it down?" asked Goodwill Director of Development Jim Wooldridge.

Wooldridge said nothing like this had ever happened to his organization before. He believes arsonists set the fire that destroyed the storage site.

"It's really sad to think that somebody would want to hurt a charity that tries to help other people," said Wooldridge.

Fire officials said the fire is very suspicious. According to the fire report, three people were seen in the area shortly before the fire began. They were travelling in a 4 door gold-colored car.

The storage unit uses no electricity and held no flammable substances.

Officials said the storage unit and equipment inside cost almost $10,000.

Donations of clothing, shoes and even children's toys were all lost to the flames.

Employees cleared away the charred remains of hundreds of donated items.

"It's a gloomy day to come out here and see our trailer burnt like this," said Goodwill Truck Driver, Anthony Williams.

However, people can still donate. Goodwill rolled in a mobile donation trailer, not wanting to turn away any one.

Those who did donate today were surprised to find the storage unit in ruin.

"I'm just sad that somebody that didn't have any time on their hands would do such a malicious act," said donor Lill Cunningham.

"I hate it," said frequent donor Wanda Barber. "I think it's a terrible thing, a crime. I'm very disappointed in whoever might have done this."

Both women left donations to help goodwill move forward, and moments later employee Anthony Williams says he made an extraordinary discovery.

"The whole desk burnt up, but the Bible, don't have a burn spot on it," he said.

Employees said the fire didn't stop progress, it slowed it for only a moment, and the charity will continue to help anyone in need.

Goodwill is also accepting money donations as well. If you would like to help out you can send your donation to Goodwill Industries of East Texas at 409 West Locust Street in Tyler or you can call (903) 593-8438.

If you have any information on the fire you are asked to call the Tyler Fire Department at (903) 535-0022.

Maya Golden reporting