Burning Question Over TWRC Home Fire

It has all the makings of a great conspiracy story.

Shortly after a controversial and heated meeting on fishing regulations a member of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission's lakeside house burns. The house, on the Blount County side of Fort Loudoun Lake, is owned by Knoxville restaurateur Mike Chase.

Insurance investigators said the fire started in an area beside a water heater. But a specially trained dog also got a "hit" on an accelerant, a sign that arson may have been involved. It remains an open question that may never be resolved.

Chase serves as the region's representative on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission. The commission deals with a lot of controversial matters involving hunting and fishing, most revolving around trophy hunters and fisherman versus commercial interests and folks that just eat what they catch. The last major battle is about the size of fish that can be taken from Norris Lake. Locals want to eat what they catch. Others want size limits in order to promote large trophy fish for tournaments and tourism.

No one thinks the people arguing the issue were involved, but there was an initial worry that some wacko upset with some TWRC ruling might have decided to take a hand.