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Former employee charged with Gallery Furniture arson

A former Gallery Furniture was arrested and charged last week with setting the May 21st fire that destroyed the warehouse adjacent to the store’s main location on the North Freeway. Robert Carroll Gillham, 66, is charged with arson, a first-degree felony. Gillham was employed by the store five years ago.

Gallery Furniture’s owner Jim McIngvale said he was happy that the arrest was made, and even more so that no one was injured in the fire. Investigators say that Gillham told several people, including his girlfriend, as early as last year that he was angry with McIngvale and wanted to burn the store.

During a press conference last week, it was revealed that Gillham had borrowed his girlfriend’s red Dodge Stratus the day of the fire and when he returned it the girlfriend said she smelled gasoline in the vehicle. Arson investigators found melted red plastic and traces of gasoline in the northeast corner of the warehouse where the fire originated.

Witnesses have also come forward to say that Gillham offered them money to start a fire at the furniture store.

Two delivery drivers also reported seeing a white man in a hoodie sweatshirt driving in a red car away from the area behind the warehouse where the fire began. The two witnesses said the driver squealed the tires and almost hit one of the men as he drove off, shortly before smoke appeared.

The fire occurred May 21 at 6006 Interstate 45 North. Houston Firefighters were able to keep the blaze from spreading to the showroom and no injuries were reported. The location reopened earlier this month. Officials have said the total loss was between $15 million and $20 million.

Gillham is currently being held in the Montgomery County jail with a $150,000 bond after being arrested two weeks ago on burglary of a habitation charge.